Luke Melia


April 10, 2002

4/10/02, 2:32 am

This is a really long post. It’s because I’ve been slack with my blog but not slack with the rest of my life. See, it’s alright to not write if I don’t do anything. Because then there’s nothing to write about anyway. But I screwed up. I didn’t write and I was busy. Result… long post. There. You were warned.

synth adventure

I just got intimate with my new synthesizer.

Yep. I’m now the owner of a well-used Yamaha PSR-SQ16, a 1992 model 66-key MIDI-savvy keyboard. It arrived from the ebay seller this morning to my office. It’s not lightweight. The guy from the mail room wheeled it over on a cart. Anthony helped me carry it home after work.

When I got it set up tonight (post-volleyball… more on that later), I discovered that the keys of the lowest half-octave didn’t work. These are very important keys for me, because I want to use the keyboard as a drum machine and the bum keys included the keys which are mapped to the kick drum and snare in drum modes.

So I went to the closet and got some screw drivers. And then I took the thing apart. Electronics pretty much baffles me, but I figured I might see something obvious, like some corrosion I could scrape off. Once inside (with dozens of screws lined up on my dining table), it was clear that there was something going on in the low-key area of the guts. Looked like someone had spilled something there years ago. Some rust, some stickiness and discoloration.

I tried to figure out why the keys wouldn’t work, plugging it back in and poking and prodding with a wooden chopstick (I assumed the warning about sticking a fork in a toaster applied here as well). A dozen more screws and the touch sensitive circuit board is exposed. It seems that the keys press into a piece of white plastic that has a two black stripes of some material. Seemed like a pretty cheap piece of plastic. The black strips make contact with the circuit board and sound happens.

I noticed that there were some cuts in the white plastic piece, but then saw that they were consistent along the length of the keyboard. Then I noticed that in the suspected spill area, there was a difference in the black material on the white strip. It was hard while the rest of the black material was soft. I took it out, spun it around and put it back in. Plugged back in and — bingo! — now the top 7-ish keys don’t work.

I left it that way. Hopefully, I can replace the white strip. Not sure what it’s called, though, or where to go to replace it. I need to buy some midi cables tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll ask at the music store.

There’s next to no documentation/discussion online on this synth either, so I’m thinking about creating a web page devoted to info on it. We’ll see.

volleyball happiness

Tonight, I played my first real game since I reinjured myself. The verdict… all good! My ankle feels fine. I jumped, hit, blocked and was my overzealous self on the court, though a bit more careful at the net than before. We got our butts kicked tonight, but our opponents were very good and we played near our peak, which felt good. Me and my new court shoes, and my new kneepads, and my ankle aircast. All happy.

I do want to improve my consistency in all my skills. I don’t want to serve the ball out, , or hit into the net, or flub blocks, or pass or set too far. I’m ready to take it to the next level.

Our next season starts next week, so there will be ample opportunity.

refining non-refinement

Meeta invited me to join her in a project for this week. She billed it as cutting our refined foods, though it’s not actually as restrictive as that. We’re doing without sugar, dairy, white rice, white flour, and stuff with chemical/synthetic additives. It’s a cool thing to do, because it makes me more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.

I started this morning. Meeta started Monday. It goes until Friday at midnight.

the last great renegade poet

My friend Dan, aka d. Storchan, is a talented poet. I went to an event that he organized on Sunday afternoon. It consisted of a few poets and some films. It was really great stuff. Dan’s a high school teacher by trade (as he puts it, “Yeah, I teach a little school…”) and it’s fascinating for me to see and read his work and wonder about my high school teachers. Were they as multidimensional as Dan is? Surely they were. I had so little clue then.

music to my ears

One of my home studio purchases was a nice pair of headphones. A pair of Sony MDR-7506s. I’ve been listening to my mp3 collection with them lately, and what a difference! I can hear so much more in the songs than I ever did before. Amazing!

Q: what do you get when you cross a computer programmer and a guitarist?

A: Two programmer/guitarists.

I had another perl and music session with Alec this weekend. His programming chops are really coming along rapidly. It’s great to see. Afterwards, we reworked Hang On Blue Skies with his input, and then recorded a guitar track and worked on some drums for it.

Fun stuff. Afterwards, we ate at a great Thai place in Alec’s Brooklyn neighborhood, and met up with Mary to see E.T. (now rereleased in the theaters!) What a great movie!

brooklyn in the house. the house in brooklyn.

I spend both days this weekend in Brooklyn. Volleyball in Prospect Park on Sunday. A housewarming dinner at Ilio and Cher’s beautiful new place that night. I already mentioned hanging with Alec and the poetry reading. So many friends have moved there. I like it there a lot. I’m not going to move or anything. I just like it.

Besides, it’s hip where I live. The cover of the current Time Out says that “Manhattan is the New Brooklyn”.

back to the drawing board?

I have a new title at work. I’m an “Architect”. It’s an additional title, doesn’t replace my primary current title, “Engineer”, which replaced my old title of “Developer”. Fascinating titles we have in the computer programming world. It’s funny to think of the traditional meanings of architecting, engineering and developing and then apply them to bits and bytes.

it’s a family affair

My brother Will decided to come with Mom and I to Peru and Bolivia. I’m so psyched!

Whew. That’s it for now. I feel much better. Now I can enjoy the springtime with an empty head.

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