I boarded a flight for San Francisco at 6am today, connecting to Hong Kong. New Year's Day was truncated as we crossed the dateline into January 2nd. This might be a metaphor for the speed at which this year is likely to pass.
What I enjoy most about travel is the pleasantly unexpected conversation, an interesting person, something spontaneous. Crossing the terminal in San Francisco, I came upon an exhibition called "The History of Audio" in Terminal 3, an informative walk through the history of electronic sound in music and movies.
I was very much taken by the individual contributions of people who are now household names to some of us: Fisher, Marantz, McIntosh, Dolby. (For those of you under the age of 40, these were brand names when audio wasn't dominated by names like Apple, Apple, and Apple.) I very much identified with the photographs of a men sitting in an electronics lab surrounded by audio signal generators, oscilloscopes, and other instruments, in the lonely pursuit of perfect sound.
The displays of pre-amplifiers, power amplifiers, turntables with SME tonearms with counterweights, and 3-head reel-to-reel tape decks took me back to a night at the age of 6 when my father first brought home his first hi-fi system. If you were going to be an audiophile, you'd piece together separate pieces from various manufacturers, to get the best combination. My Dad had decided to take up the hobby.
That night, becoming increasingly frustrated by the process of figuring out how to connect all these boxes, my Dad reminded me for the fifth time that it was past my bedtime, my "suggestions" clearly adding to his irritation. Realizing that participating would necessitate doing something useful, I surreptitiously plugged a few cables in, where I thought they should go, and music began to play.
This is my earliest recollection of the joy of "helping people by making things work." Some passions are for life.