ubuhu

I really wanted to try a USB Ubuntu setup on my computer. Felt so smart. There I was in Terminal typing out the commands to format the USB stick. Really I was only following the written instructions, but it felt empowering, like when a program performs the way you wrote it to perform. It actually took a few tries because I kept assuming that I was doing something wrong, but no. After my efforts, I find a forum thread that clearly states that the USB stick boot on a Mac is just a dream, and it’s all Apple’s fault.

Damn!

I believe it’s just too much trouble to figure out for the Ubuntu crowd, because the return on investment would be so low. As only a few Applelites would make the switch.

So since that didn’t work I go the DVD boot route, only to find that it too is mostly a fantasy. If I had lost my weekend to a success I would feel okay, but now I just feel stolen from. Ubuntu, please take down the enticing invitation to waste one’s Sunday afternoon following spurious instructions in pursuit of a fantasy. That is all.

 

Z-key 88

Zkey88_bw

This is my review of the CME Z-key 88. My previous post should give you a sense of the build quality of this instrument. And while it’s possible for someone to destroy any instrument, this one makes it easier. The internal connections are engineered a little on the light side. I suspect it is all meant for quick assembly, but it falls below the curve of what is acceptable. I love the spartan design. The clean lines and uncluttered control surface immediately caught my eye, and played into my aesthetic for simple function. It seemed like a steal at one seventh of its MSRP, but clearly it is over priced as a retail item. That being said the savvy DIYer could soon have a fun box available on the used market. And these guys will hit the used market sooner than others.

What is the target audience for this machine? I think it is meant to appeal to home recordists who are moving up from the M-audio Keyrig 49, or similar controllers. People who don’t want full DAW control but are tired of the octave limitations of the smaller keyboards. The look of the Z-key series fits nicely into a home studio, and offers the appearance of a full piano keys.

The promo material touts a new technology called Zenith, that is alleged to have the feel of a standard piano keyboard. No. This keyboard feels much more like a Keyrig 49 than a Steinway. I was going to say it feels more like a little Christmas organ  (the kind with a little electric bellows, that kind of wheezes out notes), but that would’ve been more for effect since I can’t really remember the feel. It’s been a while.

Why would anyone want one of these? Here’s why. It offers larger keys than the standard minimal controller. There is some slight weight to it. There are seven octaves immediately available, (it’s fun to stretch two arms out over the playing surface). And it is fast. The action is faster than many of the more professional true weighted keyboard. I guess less weight equals quicker movement. Yamahas seem piano like (but not as wooden as say a Steinway – which is lighter beneath the finger and heavier toward the hammer), Rolands are a bit thicker, heavier; concrete. The Zkey is not in the weighted class, but it is a fun hybrid and the adaptable player could find it a gas to play.

Look for used ones. The retail price is laughable.

Black and White

Got home found a box on the deck. Knew what it was. Early. Took out my knife, cut open the box; styrofoam peanuts. Dove in and came up with a 7 octave keyboard. Glee. Pulled it out set it on the table. Gloom. The pitch bend wheel was gone; punched into the machine, but I could see it. When you buy “as is” off Ebay what do you expect. Well, I expected it to look like the photo. The one with an intact pitch wheel. Flashlight spilunking. Doom. This probably means it won’t function at all. Plug it into USB. Lights flash on. Hope. Call up music program, depress keys. Sound comes pouring out. It works. Change gears.

Disassembly was a delicate task. Best to go slow when you don’t know the terrain. Forty screws later. Oh, the screws they used were too small. I go buy bigger ones. Reattach pitch bend wheel (two screws). Start reassembly. 40, 39, 38, 37, … 2, 1. Test keys. Some notes hang. Note Offs not recognized. First the G above middle C. Then that self corrects, then A,A#,and B one octave above. Then B two octaves below. Waste of time and money. Grrr. Continue reassembly anyway. Last screw. Set keyboard in another position; in doing so I had to change to a longer USB cable. Works perfectly. IT WAS THE DAMNED USB CABLE. What a bargain, how brilliant I am.

It’s bedtime +. I’ll review the keyboard later.

STAHP!

Sometimes you just have to not go forward. But when it’s something you love to do; doesn’t that mean something is wrong. Yes, it means that the time is wrong. But can’t you push through. Yes, but will you end up with the truest expression or will you end up just finished. You have to take a quick inventory of your energies and experiences in the past, then determine whether to push, but when you know, why not relax and gather your energies for a dance with the muse.

If you want to push; spend the time practicing a new technique or learning something new. Or give yourself permission to vegetate.

Boom Boom Ratatat Crash

I just got a new (to me) set of drums. Not real drums. These are quiet Simmons SD9K drums. And that’s exactly what I needed. No grumpy cat neighbors looking displeased at my existence, at least for keeping them up all night. Now if I just had the skill to play them. Nah, the hell with that, let me just beat on ’em.

I’m goin’, I’M GOIN’

The wunderground calls for freezy sneezy weather tomorrow, and the wood pile looks low. I have to go cut up some wood and truck it back home. It’s too cold. It will be uncomfortable. I should have done this before. Why me?

I’m goin’, I’M GOIN’

Day 21

Today marks the end of a three week stint of eating Paleo. The biggest change that I’ve noticed is that I don’t feel hungry, like I used to. Now hunger is more of a choice than a compulsion. Now hunger means “you should eat sometime within the next few hours.” It used to mean, “FOOD, NOW!”

And the definition of food was much broader then. Now it means anything paleolithic humans could obtain with the aid of a sharp stick, and requiring minimal preparation. Before reorienting to Paleo  it meant, anything inside the local Food Zoo. So if it was on the menu 40,000 years ago it’s okay, but if it comes from the center isles of the store you probably want to avoid it.

I had resisted getting on a scale for most of the 21 days, but acquiesced yesterday. I hadn’t felt a great difference or noticed a change in shape, but the scale says I lost 20 pounds. I think I’ll keep this up.

The Snow Came

This was days ago, but I wanted to share it. We had a sudden snow storm. Big fat wet flakes clustered on every surface. The snowballs were great, so long as you didn’t compact them. Within a half an hour the limbs on all the trees were coated white. We were playing a sort of snowball ambush scenario when CRACK. Three sections of a low hanging tree collapsed under the weight of the snow, falling onto the porch of the studio. There was no real damage, other than the poor tree. There were words of sadness, which I agreed with, but also in my heart there was glee.

That tree had punched me in the face regularly, as I was walking up onto or down from the porch for years, but I could never bring myself to cut it back. With one gentle snow the weather had absolved me of guilt and cleared away the menace. I cleaned up the debris with a smile on my face.

First Broken String

And I mean first. I’ve been playing guitar for at least twenty years and I just broke my first string. I was wailing into a full bend when “thwonk”, my B string broke. I’ve known this to be a disaster for other players. Once in the wilds of Canada, while adjusting a loose fret on a thirty dollar Kay guitar (the thing was as big as a boat), a guitarist friend broke a string right in the middle. That meant a trip to Ottawa, for a string! Of course there are the stage breaks. When you have to go to the back-up guitar. That can kill the mood of the song, sometimes the whole show.

But my little break was a symbol of joyful exuberance, and I’m taking it as a call from the guitar for a fret job, which it needs. Maybe I’ll get them dressed too.

Squier ’51

Yes, I am totally infatuated with this guitar. It was cheap. It met my hipster sensibilities. And it gives such good sounds. Someday I think I’ll try a telecaster pick-up at the neck position, cause I really like that tone, but for now I’ll just explore what’s inside this crunchy little guitar. The split humbucker  gives me a warm single coil sound which my ear grew to love from the Melody Maker. Anyway, I love to strap this on and wail.

51