ixnay on the enispay
Saturday, March 2 2013
Though it's very primitive and will never a fraction of the utility of a proper modern laptop, I nevertheless find the Tandy Model 102 that Gretchen got me for Christmas a compelling device. There's something about the self-contained portability combined with its trivial electrical requirements and completely knowable, macroscropic innards that makes me want to fondle it, write simple BASIC programs, and use it as a terminal for monitoring Arduino projects. Recently I added a device called a REX to its ROM slot to give me some of the benefits of having a disk drive. The interface for accessing expansions like this is terribly clunky when compared to the interface of a modern operating system, but once you know it, it's easy to get around in it quickly.
I fired up a soldering iron and made a number of hardware changes to the Model 102 today. One of these was to add a wire and a switch that would allow me to use part of the REX as a replacement for the machine's on-board ROM (to fix, among other things, an annoying Y2K bug) while reserving the capability (as I always like to have, be the system electronic or plumbing) to fall back to the old way of doing things. While I had the Model 102 open, I decided to see if I could fix the bad keys on the keyboard. The 1, S, N, and right cursor buttons have all been unreliable, and exercising them has only helped a little. Desoldering the key switches from the keyboard was easily done without even having to use a soldering iron (there are four pins for each switch), and once off, the switch mechanism could be accessed by popping off some latches. Inside, I found a rubber nipple containing a conductive pad and a pair of contacts. After scrubbing everything with rubbing alcohol, I hooked the switch up to a multimeter to test it. Interestingly, closing the switch did not create a perfect short, but instead resulted in a connection with a resistance of about 100 ohms. When I soldered the cleaned switches back into the keyboard, they functioned as if they were brand new. That was easy; the alternative would have been to find the exact same switch or perhaps a whole new keyboard, and that wouldn't have been cheap. It's just another thing I like about the Tandy Model 102 — not only was it built to last, but it was built to be repaired.
This evening, Gretchen and I drove down to the Rondout to attend this month's opening at KMOCA. It was a group show featuring works on paper. Nothing really excited me, though I happen to know one of the artists, a guy named Johnny; indeed, he and his wife Amy even attended our wedding back when Gretchen and I thought perhaps New Paltz people would factor into our lives (over the years, New Paltz has proved just a bit too far away for that). The other story involving an intersection of Johnny and Amy's life with my own dates from 2008 when I witnessed boxes of stuff that turned out to be Amy's being dumped in the woods near our house. It turned out that Johnny and Amy had paid a teenager to haul their stuff to the dump, but instead of taking it there, it ended up in various wooded locations all over Ulster County, and, since much of the material had contact information on it, Johnny and Amy got phone calls from a number of irate people. We had a good chuckle about that story one more time tonight.
At some point in the opening, when all the people who had come to the opening for its social dimension had tired of the art and was milling around waiting for the next stage of the evening, someone had the idea of taking pictures through an interior door window etched with a ice crystal pattern (so as to provide privacy). The pictures were surprisingly lovely, at least when taken with an iPhone. I had the idea of taking pictures of those pictures through the same glass, and those pictures had a lovely faceted appearance that reminded me of early cubist experiments.
Later a group of us all went Uptown to Yum Yum (the noodle shop). Since our entire contingent couldn't fit in one place, Gretchen and I found ourselves sitting with just Deborah and her boyfriend Stephen. Everyone but Stephen ordered noodle bowls, and I had some sort of red ale. We found ourselves talking about an widespread activity that kids do when they're just beginning to explore heteronormative sexuality. It involves a boy-girl couple being selected from a group and being coerced to go into a closet where they are expected to kiss. "Seven minutes of heaven," is what Stephen's peers called it. Gretchen doesn't remember the closet part, but she does remember some very awkward and highly perfunctory kisses. As for me, well, as I explained tonight, I didn't have any friends when I was a kid, and the friends I did have were nerdy boys. What were we going to do, go into a closet and bond over our love of Dungeons and Dragons (not that I was into that) and the fact that we both had penises? "Ixnay on the enispay!" Stephen retorted, sending us all into a hurricane of laughter. Why had we never heard such a thing before? We were soon saying other fun Pig Latin expressions such as "Ixnay on the aginavay!"
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