Friday, June 21, 2019

Pushing my buttons

I have had the same digital recorder for 16 years. There were several times when it seemed to be given up its electronic ghost, but then somehow, through a lot of cajoling, colorful language, and dumb luck, I managed to keep it going. It has made well over a thousand recordings, and many of them turned out well enough to post. It has spent a large portion of its life with the skin off, exposing the wires and requiring me to have the position of the buttons memorized, or take time finding it.

But it soldiered on. Until, finally, after months of periodically destroying SD cards by writing bad sectors on them, I had had enough. So I got a new recorder.

The technological leap is in many ways astounding. Now a single memory card will get me 50 hours of recording time. Live concerts are now easy to record without having to flush the card as soon as you get a spare minute. If you have a concert the next day, or something else you want to record, there is plenty of room. And when it comes time to dump the contents onto your computer it no longer takes 20 minutes to get an hour of audio to load. The new time is about 45 seconds.

I did have some issues though. There is naturally a learning curve with all things new. What I was not expecting is that I would have problems with the menu button. Right out of the box it didn't seem to work. What gives these days?

It turns out that you need to push the button the proper way. Having spent all week using my laptop at a 90 degree angle so the power cord will connect while I wait for a new one that FedEx sent from California by way of Paraguay, I can appreciate the need to do funny things to get things to work. Half of my career seems to be about making things happen when reasonable people would have given up long ago.

It seems odd that I would be pushing the button the wrong way. It's a button, right? You just push it.

My theory is that for most people that's exactly what happens. But for me, trained in 80 flavors of staccato, whose vocation is the use of the fingers on plastic levers to make sounds, there is more than one way to push a button. If you do it with a kind of languorous ultra-legato, pressing and holding with a heavy, insistent finger, it never reacts. But an articulate, rapid flick of the finger gets it to work every time.

I'm glad I figured that out. I would have had to take it back to the store and started my search over. Instead, I have memorized one more little sub-routine for getting through life that works and is simple once you know it.

Welcome to my weird little world. Even pushing a button is an adventure in piano technique.

In case you were wondering about the package with my new power cord in it (see last week's post), it was "guaranteed" to arrive on Monday at my temporary abode in Ohio where I knew I would be spending the week when I ordered it. It is now five days late, having started in California, and, according to the tracking information, been through New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, then Florida (where it spent 3 days for no apparent reason), Kentucky, then it passed Cincinnati and spent a day in Columbus. It made the remaining 90 minute car trip back to Cincinnati, where it was transferred to the US postal service, which now has the package at the local post office and should be delivered today. Having just wrapped up 3 concerts in Ohio I plan to return to Pittsburgh today. Which means the package may have to be re-mailed the rest of the way. Apparently "guarantee" is one of those words that has changed meaning recently.

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