The Destination After the Journey

Posted on February 19, 2011


“Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, *vocalizes sax* nehneh nehneh nehneh neh!!!! I knew that I would, now!!!”

Here I sit, behind my bureau with a big bowl of corn flakes; freshly out of the showers after hibernating for 10 straight hours. Yeah!!! Last friday, vrijdag in Dutch (literally meaning “freeday”), signified my true liberation from some fairly heavy loads I’ve been lifting for the last half year.

Thursday, a team of a few classmates and I set out to Dordrecht to deliver a prototype to a company, who specializes in designing and manufacturing flowmeters for virtually any application. Our assignment was to design one based on a 1982 design… fully analog… in compliance to a set of specifications that would deem the device worthy for operation in a nuclear power plant – need I say more?!? Well… we spend 7 hours at the company testing and fooling around with the circuit. Seemed that even the engineers at the firm itself had a hard time understanding the original circuit. And before arrival we all felt like “big losers” for our incapability to fully understand the schematics and its logic. Phew. After a long day of probing the circuit, the supervising engineer noted our work sufficient for a very good grade — load of my shoulder.

Thursday-afternoon, on our way back to school, I decide to jump the car to catch the subway near a metro station somewhat closer to the rehearsal location than my school would be –saves me some minutes. I’m on my way to the dress rehearsals for the Building The Wall event.

There we are… rehearsal gets going but somehow technology has a way of conspiring against you at times you need her the most. I was blowing some steam… I saw the Music Director blow some steam. Heck, the poor fella had spend the whole day working his ass off to have everything running like  a train and that was exactly what wasn’t happening at that dress rehearsal *sights*.

I’m home somewhere late at night — too late to still look at the time. I have to be at the lab at eight o’clock on Friday, trying to salvage what we still can for that micro-brewery project we had running at the same time like our difficult flow-meter project. Tomorrow is the day we’ll have to derive the the Proportional, Integral and Derivative terms from our tuning logs and set our PID controller to heat a brewing-kettle. I sit down to read my email… my classmates went to school after the Dordrecht episode and ran some new tests. I review the data… looks okay, this should all go reasonably well tomorrow. Oh snap — I have to bounce a few tracks for our Music Director. A promise is a promise — I bounce the first few and fall asleep.

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Friday morning and Rotterdam is still a very dark place. I’ve slept but merely 4 hours, something I’ve been doing for weeks now… I look up… the computer has bounced nearly all tracks. I check the modwheel MIDI parameters for the organ track and start the bounce — showertime. At few minutes before eight I close the door. The tracks have been bounced and send and I’m ready to get the show on the road with that PID thing. The group is already running tests in the lab when I enter and we run through the usual ritual,  handshake, “Goedemorgen” or any contracted version of the phrase. I fire up matlab, throw my jacket and bag in the corner and get to work.

Around noon I realize that we have that event that night and I will have to get going (after a reminder of my colleagues at school). Seems that the time of our tuning data had been of insufficient length to get proper values. Basically the resulting parameters doesn’t make sense and we’ve tried it all — manual calculations, matlab, excel. Yes, the measurements had to be run over a timeperiod greatly exceeding 90 minutes – what a bummer!!! The teacher arrives and we run the acceptance test — insufficient. We discuss our input — sufficient. Verdict – a passing grade, the height of which is yet to be determined. I’m somewhat pissed off. I haven’t worked my ass off for a six out of ten.

Time to fly to the soundcheck (as flying would be the only way to still get there on time). I should have been there around 4 o’clock, others would’ve been there at three. I make a quick call to notify them of my delay and end up showing up at 5 somewhere. Snap!!! Still frustrated about the stress from school and the resulting grade that wasn’t nearly in proportion to my input, I walk pass everybody and get seated behind my board. They’re already playing a few songs and I pick up from wherever they are. After the song I run through the entire greeting sequence we’ve all been more-or-less programmed to run through :P.

After sound-check comes dinner, the ironing of clothes, makeup (poison on my face) and it’s go time!!!

Guess what, my boo came to watch me play!!!

A a few hours later, in which I’ve make some unforgivable mistakes (my words, not theirs), we are being swarmed with positive remarks from the audience. Many were swept away. Somehow surprised I observe how the theatrics unfold and think “Wow, people were really blown away”. I wasn’t perfectly happy about myself, but to be quite frank that wasn’t what I was doing this for. People listened, people heard, people enjoyed themselves and we’ve had God at the center of this entire thing (that’s what Gospel gigs are all about). Mission completed and I’m happy!!!


A half year of projects, a half-year of preparations and it is all over in just one night. The joy, the satisfaction — unsurmountable. As I get used to the feeling of unloaded shoulders I listened to the Music Director wondering out loud what to do with all this free time he’ll now have on his hands. I laugh…

It’s been a hell of a journey. The lessons, the stress, phew!!! It was heavy… but seriously… arriving at the destination and looking back makes it all worth it!!!

Done with my bowl of cornflakes, that marks the official start of my Saturday and tonight I might just pop a wine to celebrate. Not for too long though, because there are already some new tasks awaiting me.

Your journey has destinations too… push through it. It’ll probably be well worth your time and efforts.

Posted in: me, music, projects