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Feb. 13, 2022 — The soundtrack of one’s life

Part of what we’ve been doing during the pandemic is spending time on organizing music. As part of the organization, I have been able to figure out how to run iTunes off an external drive.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was able to pick up a 512-gigabyte thumb drive from our local independent computer shop for a shade over 30 bucks. I had been running iTunes from a mechanical hard drive about half the size of this thumb drive, and it had cost about $100 from a Circuit City store near my parents’ house.

Now, I’ve accumulated thumb drives over the years. They have been given to me as souvenirs, as marketing devices for hotels, and some as gifts. As we’ve talked about in the past, computer memory is one of those commodities which is governed by Moore’s Law, a principle that an item can often double in size or efficiency and cost half as much in cycles of 12 to 15 months.

For part of last week, I moved several thousand music files onto the big thumb drive, with the aim of seeing how well (or poorly) it works with the USB slot in my car radio. It’s a pretty cool option to have the ability to have hundreds of songs on a drive, plug it into the stereo, press “Random,” and just let it play.

Only there are limits to how well this works with very large drives. The stereo does not swiftly recognize the big 512 GB drive, so I have started on a process of copying some of the files to smaller drives. One of them is a blue drive from Verbatim that is 64 GB in size.

I started filling the drive with music I used to enjoy from the early to mid 1990s when I would go out clubbing after evening shifts at the newspaper. The music I listened to was a mishmash of 80s New Wave, 90s alternative, gothic-industrial, New York-style club music, trance, and jungle.

One of the people who brought us this kind of music was a female DJ who went by Gal. She was a gregarious soul and a laugh riot who cracked jokes and dropped musical knowledge in equal measure.

Years of hard living, however, took a toll on her physical and mental health, leading to her death last week. As one of the people who provided the soundtrack to my life for nearly a decade, Gal was an person who influenced the way I looked at life and how music fit into it.

Indeed, she and the DJs I would listen to either on the local college radio stations or at the clubs near home were the ones who wrested my musical tastes away from the Billboard charts or the flavor-of-the-week playlists from Clear Channel. To this day, I couldn’t tell you the difference between One Direction and One Republic, or which punctuation marks adorn the names of pop stars Kesha and Pink.

After dumping 61.78 GB of music on the drive, the computer asked me whether I wanted to change the name of the drive.

It’s now named Gal.

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