Anachostic

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Tag Archives: hobbies

The (Sea) Eagle Has Landed

It was many years ago, in 2012, that I started the hobby of kayaking.  I was fresh into a new relationship and had experienced kayaking for the first time.  It was pretty clear that tandem kayaking was probably not going to work out for us.  That meant I needed my own kayak in which to isolate my terrible paddling technique.

As luck would have it, Woot was selling inflatable kayaks at a pretty good price, so I bought some.  Two is some, right?  I did the research and these kayaks, by Sea Eagle, were pretty well respected.  Obviously they had their detractors – those who would never use anything but a solid kayak.  But, there are a lot of conveniences to be had with these inflatables.  The most important is that I could transport it in my MX-5.  Not only that, but I could transport both of them.

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Years have gone by, and I’ve been wanting an upgraded version of the Sea Eagle.  I find it very odd they have such a good entry level model at a reasonable price, $200, but if you want the real deal, the model that really earns its keep, the price is over $1000.  There’s nothing you can do in-between?  Damn.

So I watched and waited.  Actually, I let CamelCamelCamel do the watching.  When I created the watch, the Sea Eagle model I wanted was a little over $1000.  I set my target price at $850.  And I got nothing, for almost a year.  I had nearly completely forgotten about the watch when I got an email notification that the kayak was now being sold for $822, and that was the cheapest it had ever been.

Part of me wanted to sit back and think about it.  The other part of me went to Amazon and saw there were only two left in stock.  There’s a lot of expenses that have suddenly crept up on me lately, so I couldn’t justify buying two of these, so I just bought one.  The next day, I went back and the price on the remaining one had gone up slightly to $835, so I guess I did the right thing.  A few days later, that one remaining kayak was up to $913, so, yes, I think I did do the right thing.  However, that’s not the cheapest I’ve ever seen them.  Woot, of all places, once sold the Fast Track model in the $600 range.  Now that’s a great deal.

The package arrived a couple of days earlier than the the initial tracking estimated.  The box was compact and heavy, just as I remember my other kayaks arriving.

I inflated it to get an idea of how it compared to my original Sea Eagles.  There is no comparison.

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Where the SE330 hugs your sides, the 385FT gives you plenty of width.  The floor in the FastTrack is firm and has little give.  The material on the FastTrack is substantial and much less pliant.  I left it inflated overnight to let it sort of stretch out.  And of course identify any potential leaks.  It was fine for days (because I’m lazy).

I have yet to take the craft out, but I am eager to try it out this year.

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So, Are YOU A Collector? Clearly Not.

As I posted recently, I went on a CD safari and ended returning with 20 CDs.  15 of those were purchased from two flea market vendors, both of whom said they were collectors. 

In the first booth I went to, I felt I was in a hurry for time, so I scanned the discs very quickly, looking for smooth cases.  However, I saw one CD that I had scored on my last flea market trip that was a valuable find.  The CD wasn’t in a a smooth case (actually a shitty, flimsy case), so I was curious what a normal edition of that album looked like.  When I opened the case, I was surprised.  Similar to my previous reaction to finding gold, I said, “Oh, it’s a red-faced Polydor.  Nice.” 

Only a real geek would say “a red-faced Polydor”, right?  That’s a statement that would come out of the mouth of an orthinologist.  Like, you should log that in a bird-watching book along with the time and location.  But, I didn’t log it, I bought it.  WHY?  I already had one and it was a valuable one at that!  Sometimes, you can’t explain these things to collectors.  Different is good.

When I got home and cleaned the CDs all up, I researched what I had purchased.  Now you may recall the post about my $300 find for $3.  Well, this time, I paid $5, and wouldn’t you know it?  Someone has paid over $500 for this CD.

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I now have both of these CDs.  What’s the difference?  100% appearance.  These are the two CDs.  They have the same music.

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And when I say they have the same music, I checked.  They DO.  I posted this on Relative Waves.  It’s the same.

That’s two waveforms overlaid on each other.  There’s no green or white peeking out anywhere.  That means no differences. SAME SAME SAME.

Anyway.  So now I have a new most valuable CD.  Again, by a large margin.  In fact, my collection value went up by over $1000 from this last trip.  After all, I did find a bunch of other rarities.

Safari 2018

A little over a year ago, I went on a CD hunt, and I recently chose to indulge myself again.  This time, I would travel to a remote metro city with a whole new, fresh collection of thrift shops to plunder.  The trip would be two hours to get there (and coincidentally, two hours to get back).  But that’s quite ok, because driving is something I do.  The MX-5 has 263k miles on it right now and shows no sign of giving up.

I plan on making a couple of alterations to the car before this road trip.  The first is removal of the Zune integration with the stereo.  It’s been fun, but as time wore on, and Zune support in Windows went away, it’s less of a thing now for me.  I’ve gotten back into CDs, which seen to have more fidelity than the Zune audio pumped through a 3.5mm cable, even when the files are lossless.

While I have things disassembled, I also plan to implement the traffic power cable for my GPS and hide the ugly bits behind the dash.  Right now, I have a frankencable coming up from my center console and up the dash.  It doesn’t provide a traffic antenna for the GPS and said GPS bitches about it every single time I start it up.  It will be nice to be rid of that stupid alert and also to have the traffic info for better routing.  This will involve purchasing an add-on 12v socket that I’ll hide behind the dash and plug the GPS power cable into it.  I can’t understand why they don’t design GPS power cables to be either plug-in or hard-wired.  Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve torn the interior of my car apart.  I used to do it on a monthly basis.

And then, a trip like this is something that must be done solo.  I can’t imagine the mind-numbing boredom of sitting in a car as a passenger for hours on end, then slogging around dingy shops for a full day.  I have a list of 20 locations to hit in the remote area, including one bona-fide music store.  I’m not sure if I will have time to hit the flea market while I’m there, but I’ll certainly try.

Friday after work, I spent a couple of hours fighting in the car, routing the power cable for the GPS and removing old audio stuff.  That was a success, or so I thought until I went out for dinner that night.  Now I have an alternator whine in my front right speaker, so I’m going to have to take the dash all apart again and be a bit more cautious with my power cable and audio cable routing.  Worse, it means my Saturday trip (two hours each way) will be in silence.  Oh fucking no.

I headed out early in the morning and made it to the flea market just as it opened.  I found two large CD sellers and spent more than I usually would at a flea market.  I paid more per CD, but I think I got some good items.  (Wait for the post on this.  You have no idea!)

The rest of the day was pretty sad compared to the flea market.  Many thrift shops were closed or out of business.  The music store I went to had outrageous prices, like $8 for used CDs, and nothing remotely collectable.  Well, that’s not true.  I treated myself to a Gold CD for $50.  I’ve said before, you can’t really go wrong with those.  They keep their value.

I finished the day at an old favorite Thai restaurant, which was amazing as usual.  Just like the good old days when you would judge how good the food was by how long your tongue would burn after the meal.  And it was a while.

The traffic feature on the GPS did its job and told me when construction was coming up and when I would be delayed by traffic and for how long.  At one point it was counting down when the traffic jam would end and almost as soon as it said it was over, we started speeding up again.  Amazing.

So tomorrow is car stereo repair time.  And tonight has been cleaning, logging, and ripping.  I’ll do some relative waves posts with some of the new editions I picked up tonight as well.

Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Succeed

I was browsing my old posts and found a semi-promise to relate a story about a massive keyboard I didn’t want anymore.  And the thought of that coincided with something I’ve given thought to in the past with collections.

But first, the story.  At one point in my studio, I had five keyboards.  Two 88-key and three 61-key synths.  On one rack, behind my desk, I had the General Music Equinox and the Casio CZ-1.

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On the wall to the right of my desk, I had the Roland RD-600 and a CME UF6.  The CME did not have any sounds; it was just a performance controller.  Sadly, the computer drivers went out of date before I could ever use it.  I’ve actually forgotten where it went or what I did with it.

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And in storage was an old Ensoniq ESQ-1, my first professional-grade keyboard.  It was awesome to the end.  That keyboard was eventually sold for a pittance to a guy I was in a club with.  I should have just kept it in storage.

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Anyway, I didn’t have a real use for all these keyboards, especially two 88-key controllers.  The Equinox had to go.  I wasn’t looking to make money on it, I thought it would be a fair trade for a mixer, which is something I did need at the time.

I have a Guitar Center in my town, so I loaded up the Equinox in the GF’s car and we headed down to make a deal.  This keyboard is a beast, all metal case, weighted keys, hard drive, floppy drive, sequencer, the works.  But when I get to the equipment guy at Guitar Center, he looks it over and just says, “nah.”  Not literally, but he said as politely as possible that they did not want it.  I explained that I didn’t want cash for it, I wanted to do a trade.  That didn’t change his mind.  So I was bummed out and got ready to pick the monster back up to haul it outside again.  But then the guy asked, “What were you looking to get for it, anyway?”

And I can’t definitely explain why that question caused me to see red.  Maybe I thought he was mocking me after telling me my keyboard was worth nothing to them.  It was a pointless question, completely unnecessary.  Like, if I said, 50 bucks, he would change his mind?  Did he want to see just how desperate I was?  Was he looking to either take advantage of a low price or laugh at me for an unrealistic price?  All these thoughts rushed through my mind and I just snapped at him.  “Nothing, if you’re not interested in taking it!”  And things got awkward, partially because my outburst didn’t really make any sense.

I stormed out of Guitar Center carrying my massive anchor under my arm and the GF followed me out, silently and probably sheepishly.  I’m not one for making a scene (unless someone forgets my SPOON), so it was just bad all around.  And you know what kind of hurt the most?  I bought that keyboard used from the Guitar Center in Plymouth Meeting before I came to Florida.  They’ll sell it, but they won’t trade for it.

So fuck Guitar Center.  After calming down and reassessing, I decided to try the other option, Sam Ash Music.  This would require a longish drive, like an hour away.  So I loaded the Equinox up and headed out solo.  This sales guy tried to set my expectations low.  He said that nobody really wanted these old synthesizers anymore and the best he could do is try to sell it as a MIDI controller.  Yeah, yeah, I hear ya.  He said he could give me $150 for it.

As insulting as that was, I pressed on.  I asked if I could do a trade for a mixer and he warmly agreed.  We walked over to the mixers and I reviewed what I could get for $150.  There was an ok model, but a much better one was there for $200.  So I asked him if I could get the $200 mixer.  He said yeah, we could do that.  We had a deal.  (Spoiler: we didn’t.)

The sales guy gets the mixer, does up all the paperwork for the keyboard trade and he sends me off to the cashier.  She punches everything in and says that’ll be $54.  Excuse me?  This was a trade.  She says yeah, the keyboard is a $150 credit and your mixer is $200.  The sales guy gets called back over.  I ask him what’s going on and he reiterates that we agreed the keyboard would be $150.  I explain that I thought when we were looking at mixers and I asked if I could get the $200 mixer, we were negotiating.  Nope, we were not negotiating at all.

I didn’t want to storm out of a second store in a blind fury, so I sucked it up and bought my $200 mixer for $50 and unloaded an anchor.  In hindsight, I should have kept the keyboard in storage.  I could have gifted it to someone who really wanted to play music.

So that’s the story of the Equinox.  I said that that the circumstances of that story made me think of collections.  The other night I did a quick Craigslist search for CDs and found someone selling his collection of “over 750” CDs.  First of all, you don’t have an accurate count, that’s strike one.  You don’t have a list of albums or even artists, strike two.  You can’t make out any titles from the photos you posted, strike three.  And for your strikeout, what were you looking to get for it, anyway?  $2,250?  hmmmm. Ok.  $3/CD is fair, if I want ALL the CDs.  But at this point, from what I know about the collection, I want zero.

This is the curse of all collections, that the bigger they get, the less aggregate value they have and the more individual value they potentially have.  It’s the same problem with thrift shops and many flea market dealers.  They make the incorrect assumption that every CD is worth the same.  Any intelligent person would agree that is not true at all.  And as the valuable CDs are snatched up, you are left with nothing but junk that is worth far less than the price you are asking.

Holding On

I read a recent post by AK that flew right in the face of a hobby I’ve been cultivating.  It’s something I’ve been doing for a little while and is really only one facet of the other side of the Letting Go story.  The hobby (and obsession for some) is “archival”.

First, I’m no stranger to purges and I feel the same satisfaction from downsizing as anyone with too much stuff would.  However, sometimes, regret comes back to haunt me.  It’s not the loss of a blender or a stack of towels that I miss.  It’s usually something less utility and more historically significant, which usually carries some emotion with it.  When I say historically significant, I don’t mean like a piece of the Berlin wall, I mean something that represents a period of your life.  And even though there is emotion and significance behind it, there is also a strong element of uselessness.

I ‘ve read a little on the KonMari method and internally nodded my head up until I got to the point where it was explained that we hold on to things for two main reasons: the future and the past.  In the case of the future, we don’t want to get rid of something because we may have a future use for it.  That’s a rational argument, but I usually tackle that by reminding myself that when I need it in the future, I can buy the latest and greatest version of what I need.  (Ironically, the latest version of most things will probably be made shoddier and overall be worse in quality, so…) That kind of mindset would make older generations freak out.  How wasteful! 

In the case of the past, which is where my archivist neuroses kick in, you are afraid of losing a bit of your identity.  The modern philosophy is to live in the present, which, expressed in outrageous terms, is hedonistic.  If you disregard your past and do not plan your future, what is life?  A day-to-day experience with no permanence. 

And, many would agree, the past is highly important, on a personal and societal level.  I’m not going to go to the levels of psychoarchivists who want to preserve absolutely everything, but I do believe that you need to have a record of your past in more than simple digital records.

I have a box in which I keep all my ephemera.  I have items going back to my teenage years, which I believe are personally socially significant.  One of the most useless things I have is a rubber hand with formable fingers.  Yes, at the time, it was usually used to flip people off and it has literally zero value today, but it’s a part of my part and is a useful prop when sharing my life story with someone.  Everybody loves props.

I have an old horoscope paper which used to be sold in little plastic tubes back in the day.  I have memorabilia from past jobs – old name tags, signs, magnets.  You could find some of these things in thrift shops and consignment stores and that is where the great disconnect happens.  People think these things have value.  They only have value to the person who acquired them.  You can’t buy a memory from a store.  I would never try to replace anything from my memory box from a store.  Like a child’s replacement teddy bear, it’s not the same.

So back to the KonMari method.  You might surmise that I would keep everything in my memory box because it gave me joy.  That’s not entirely true.  It rekindles a memory.  And more importantly, the loss of not having those items is greater than the cost of keeping them.  There is a time in a friendship where you finally feel comfortable baring yourself for another person, and that is when the memory box comes out and is shared.  To not have a physical record of your personal highs and lows would be a shame.  You can flash all the photos and videos on the screen that you want, but to be able to touch someone’s past is unique and special.

Bringing It Back

A couple of months ago, I picked up a new keyboard at a thrift shop.  As the holidays were approaching, I only had a few moments to spend any time with it.  I did a quick cleaning and test of the device and found it was… weird.  Something was really odd sounding about the patches when I played them.  I don’t have perfect pitch, but I can hear well enough to know when something is out of key.  And that’s what the problem sounded like.

The phenomenon was very weird, because as I would play songs that are completely familiar to me, I would screw up while playing them.  Not because of any sloppiness or difference in the keyboard action, it was because my ears were hearing a different pitch than I was playing on the keyboard, so my fingers would try to compensate for that and stretch to the wrong next key.  Like I would play a C and know the next note is a D, but my ear hears a B and my fingers think I have to stretch over an extra key to get to the D.  Just a mess.

I did try some repair on the keyboard a little bit afterwards.  After opening it up, I found the pitch and mod wheel cable was disconnected, and it looked like something had been spilled inside.  I pulled the keys that looked like they’d been affected by the spill and cleaned them.  The contacts looked fine.  And then, right in the middle of that procedure, the holidays came back, so I had to close the keyboard all up and store it again.  Along the way, I found I had lost 4 springs for the keys I had cleaned.  Not lost, but they had fallen out.

The other night, I pulled the beast back out and set about some trial and error troubleshooting.  During a previous round of testing, I had discovered there really was a pitch problem and my primary suspect was the aftertouch ribbon.  So after I replaced the missing key springs, I did a quick test with the aftertouch cables disconnected.  Perfect sound!  I reconnected the pitch and mod wheel cable and it still worked fine.  Things are looking up!

I considered the restoration project a success.  I had a functional 88-key keyboard for $100.  Who could complain about that?  Well, maybe I could complain that I had nowhere to set the thing up.  And having this massive electronic device made me miss the even bigger electronic device I nearly gave away.  That one was a real monster:

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Maybe one day I’ll write about the experience of trading this killer keyboard for a little tiny mixer.  Maybe it’ll include the confrontation with the sales guy at Guitar Center.

I have some desire to do some music.  To have all these devices and not make use of them is a shame.  And  ridiculously, I have some desire to recollect my original keyboards, maybe in rackmount form, so I can have my original inspiring sounds.

Things were different back then.  Things were more simple and also more difficult.  But the difficulty didn’t matter at the time because there wasn’t any other option.  You had to be daring and involved and willing to expend effort.  Now, expending the effort is rather a big deal.  I have a lot of software to set up, some hardware to configure, patches to configure, and eventually some audio routing will be needed.  These things aren’t conducive to creativity.

As I’ve been rebuilding my playing stamina and relearning some of my old compositions (which I’m very saddened to find I’ve forgotten a lot), I’ve been debating putting some of them online.  I actually have some old video of my playing from 2009 but I doubt it’s usable.  Production values have skyrocketed since then, so I’d probably need to record the video and audio separately, then mix them together to get the best quality.  More setup, more effort, less creativity.

Additionally, I’ve got yet another future audio project that is going to require the full recording setup effort, so maybe it’s happening sooner than I think.  Here’s to 2018 having a more diverse creative output.

Christmas Night 2017: An Evening Of Poor Decisions

As my previous post mentioned, I, along with a couple of cohorts, put luminaries throughout the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, it rained overnight and about 80% of the bags were flat in the morning.  So collection of the luminaries began a day earlier than expected.

I don’t have a big neighborhood, but it feels a lot bigger when you have to make trips to and from your house over and over, carrying about 25 pounds of sand each time.  And, while I was grateful to have all the extra help putting out the lights, it’s probably pretty well known to event organizers that cleanup is a lonely task.

It took about 3 hours and according to my MS Band, which has come out of retirement today, it was over five miles of walking, stooping, standing, and carrying.  The Band does not have a monitor for self-pity, but even if it did, I wouldn’t want to see the results.  A maxed-out chart is uninteresting anyway.

My self-absorbed activity absorbed most of my day and resulted in me skipping substantial meals.  I snacked on shit and salad (got to be balanced), but after the luminaries collection was finished and the tea lights separated from two trash bags full of crumpled paper bags, I was ready to eat.

On Christmas day, your dining options are limited.  So, fault me for not planning ahead and having food of my own to eat at the house (just shit and salad).  Of the available options, I chose IHOP, because they have a sirloin tip dinner that isn’t half bad (It’s close to half-bad, but not all the way there).  The roads are pretty empty going there, which is positive.  But then I found out why the roads were empty.  Everyone was already parked at IHOP.

Sometimes, you can tell when a restaurant is fucked right when you walk in.  I got that.  Sometimes, you can tell why a place is fucked, too.  Mmmm, probably the party of 12, would be my guess.  I don’t know why this is not common knowledge that as the size of the dining party grows, the time and effort to service that party grows exponentially.  That’s for another blog post.

I did eventually get seated and got my food.  It was good, but it wasn’t enough.  I know, right?  You want more shitty food?  A little shitty food, actually, a normal portion of shitty food isn’t enough?  Yes, that is what I am saying.  But, me, being the courteous customer, keenly aware of the long line of people waiting for their opportunity to eat shitty food, I got out quickly.  But I was still hungry.  For what?

Convenience store hot dogs, that’s what!  I was mentally prepared to purchase and eat two roller dogs, so I made my way to a nearby Circle K.  Unfortunately, they had two hot dogs on the grill.  Also unfortunately, they were “jumbo” hot dogs, which isn’t something I’m into.  It has nothing to do with any intimidation or personal inadequacy, it’s a mathematical law – the meat-to-bun ratio.  This is also a post of its own, but in summary, the amount of meat has to be balanced with the amount of bread, just so, otherwise, it’s shit.

Despite the out-of-whack ratio I was facing, I made my move on the dogs, which were spinning slowly in front of me.  Did they think they could escape, confusing rotational motion for forward motion?  I was just about to take down my first dog when the counter lady said, “Oh, you don’t want them.  They’ve been there since about noon.”  But, but, these are the only spinning meat sticks you have.  I think I do want them.

She talked me out of one more poor decision for the evening.  Undeterred, I went to another Circle K down the road.  This store had an array of jumbo dogs, but they were all corralled behind a sign that said “still cooking”.  I sense a poor decision coming on…

And so it was made.  I left the dogs undisturbed and instead bought a cup of boiled peanuts. And a coke.  And pretzels.  And since this is probably my last night on earth, a Powerball ticket.  Once in my car, I make another excellent decision – eat the peanuts here and now.  If you’ve never had fresh boiled peanuts, just understand that these things are soaking in brine for hours and hours and hours (and hours and hours and hours more if no one’s buying them).  In that time, they absorb liquid.  And when you go to free the peanuts from the shells, that liquid is expelled in the most messy way possible.  It’s like popping zits of brine (oooo, a new band name for AK).

After realizing I had nothing to wipe my hands or vehicle interior with, I shuttled the peanuts back home where I ate them hastily.  My stomach protested loudly at every bad decision I had made in the last hour or so.  This led to finishing off some ice cream, straight out of the carton.  Why not?  Gonna die.  Or get some serious shits.  But know this about me:  I do not puke.

And all of that leads me to my final poor decision of the night and possibly my life – writing this post.

Anyway, Here’s The (Wonder)Wall

When I went to bed last night, the word counts for my NaNoWriMo buddies were 539, 447, and 0 (granted, he’s west-coast, so I may not know).  Me? All of 78 words added.  Beginning week 3, Sustain week, the grind.  And judging from all our performances, it’s the wall.

Speaking on my own experience, I opened up the document, looked at the outline, which ended with “Chapter 33 – Lin And Steven Negotiate”, typed “Chapter 34 – ” and stopped.  I had no idea what the next chapter was going to be.  No idea whose perspective it was from or any sort of plot.  After a couple minutes of staring blankly, I walked away from my computer.

It’s not like I couldn’t write.  I was inspired to do a blog entry that day, when I was expecting to go dry for a while.  And I’m writing this blog entry now.  I’m doing all of this instead of working on my novel.  Recently, I commented on how writing the novel wasn’t really fun anymore.  And I gave that emotion some thought and had another realization.

My NaNoWriMo profile identifies me as a “Pantser”: writing with no planning and flying by the seat of my pants.  And that has worked out very well for me.  I am always excited to see where my characters want to go.  I only have detail in my head for one future scene and how to get there, and I have various long-range events that may or may not ever come to fruition.  They all depend on how the short-term scenes play out.

However, lately, something has changed.  In prior weeks, I would always be thinking about the story and what was coming up next.  These last couple days, I haven’t given a single thought to the story.  Yesterday, I only had my thoughts about the upcoming scenes from a few days ago.  Today, I sat down and I had nothing.

So, how did I get over that?  I chose to do some editing.  I jumped back three chapters and read what I had written.  In the process of doing that, I learned that my story isn’t actual shit, which I was increasingly convincing myself it was.  I fixed some basic typos, changed some phrasing, and ended up with an additional 78 words for the day.  More than that, I encouraged myself that this is a story and the story isn’t over yet.  These characters still have things to do.

Today will be a long day at work, but when I get home, hopefully I will have the refreshed energy to take on another two chapters.  Verbum Vomite!

The Envelope Please

Yesterday, I picked up a new keyboard.  I found it at a thrift shop.  I suppose most people would be like, why would you want a grungy old keyboard?  Just go to WalMart or Best Buy and buy a new one.  Well, this keyboard was $100.  And your reaction is probably, what the hell keyboard costs $100.  And I’d keep feeding you clues.  It’s 20 years old.  Is this some sort of vintage IBM mechanical clicky monstrosity?  The kind that annoy everyone in the room?  Nope, it’s a keyboard.  An Alesis QS8.

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A picture doesn’t do this thing justice, only because you have to pick it up to appreciate it.  The case is solid steel.  The ends?  Solid oak.  55 pounds of wood and steel.  88 keys of weighted piano action.  It’s a monster.

It’s not the first monster I’ve had.  The predecessor to this Alesis QS8 was a General Music Equinox Pro.  Another 88 key steel anchor.  I have a whole story about the disposal of that anchor that will probably never get posted, but it did involve me getting very belligerent with a sales person at Guitar Center.

Although the news that I now have a second 88-key keyboard is cool, that is not what I really wanted to post about.  I had a revelation tonight.  I may have mentioned I am participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.  This is week 2 and I’ll be honest.  It’s not as much fun anymore.  And that led me to my revelation.

If you have ever programmed a synthesizer, you probably know about the ADSR envelope.  If you have ever participated in NaNoWriMo, you are living through an ADSR envelope.  If you’ve done both, you are probably nodding right now.  For those that don’t know what an ADSR envelope is, I will explain it very quickly and it will make immediate sense.

This is an ADSR envelope:

adsr-1-r471x

ADSR means: Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release.  And these four points of the envelope correspond to the weeks of NaNoWriMo.  You’ll need to replace “Amplitude” with “Daily Word Count”.

You have your first week, where you are full of energy and ideas, so your word count skyrockets.  The second week (where I am now), your output drops to a more realistic level.  Week three is the grind (I’m going to expect this will be true), where you have to force yourself to keep going although you are sick of seeing words on a screen.  The final stage, if you make it, and if you’ve plodded along consistently, is coasting to the finish line, putting in filler text and additional dialog that fills in the blanks until you collapse at the finish line with one word left to go and you find that one character who never had a line of dialog and make him say, “Fuck.”  Just because.

So, welcome to Decay week of NanoWriMo.  Next week, we all Sustain.

Authenticated

Whenever you go to an local art or music exhibition, there is a greater than normal chance you are going to be faced with disappointment.  Further, you may be slightly offended that such works of art are foisted upon the unsuspecting public.  And they have the audacity to proclaim themselves as art!  Whenever you encounter one of these events where you must provide your feedback and insight into the quality of the presented medium, there is a simple compliment that you can give that softens the blow.  The art/music is authentic.

I am one of those artists that will offend your finer sense of artistic quality (doing it right now!), but you cannot deny the artistic integrity on display.  And here is a point I want to make about how I approach art.  I create ignorant art.  That is, I do it using my own inherent skills and skills I am able to pick up organically.  In other words, I don’t want to be taught – or more accurately, told – how to do art.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year because, you know, I can write, and moreso1 because AK is the great persuader.  What’s the first thing I get in my email when I sign up?  A bunch of help resources.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I’m going to succeed or fail on my own, you just watch.

And the help never seems to stop.  It’s kind of the same thing with music.  There’s a never-ending list of resources for how to do something.  It’s the case for anything creative, really.  Here’s how to be creative.  You know what?  You either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t have it and all you do is follow how-to’s, you are simply a clone of your teachers.

I’m not saying there’s no room to learn and grow.  I’m saying you can’t be taught how to be creative.  I know that no one can teach me how to have an eye for visual design.  It’s not an ingrained skill for me.  I could have sworn I’d written on this topic before, but I can’t find it.  My memory is a post about how my music compositional style is unique and that uniqueness owes itself to not being formally trained.  The memory also made a point that many musical icons had no training and became genre-defining because they broke the norm.

So, in that spirit, I am beginning a novel with only a plot concept and a couple of characters.  I have no idea how it’s going to end and what will happen between the beginning and end.  At a minimum, I expect it will cause me a lot of trouble with pacing, since I don’t know what will happen and when.  It would suck to unexpectedly get to the end of the story at 20k words.

But, as bad as it may potentially turn out, I can say that my work is authentic.  It will have no influence from “better, more knowledgeable” people whose writing credits are filled with how-to articles.


  1. Moreso: from http://grammarist.com/usage/moreso – “…continues to appear despite the disapproval of usage authorities and of spell check.”  Yeah, fuck you, authorities, and you too, spell check.