Walking Down No. 4 With an MD Player Cranked

The summer of 2003 was an interesting time. I was just starting to get back on my feet after moving to the west coast of Canada and, thanks to steady employment and a reasonable debt repayment plan1, disposable income was no longer a pipe dream. My computer at the time wasn't particularly amazing2, but it could handle all of the core things I wanted to do at the time; IRC, Age of Empires, and PalmOS application development.

Work at this point in my life involved the day shift at a printing shop about 5km from my apartment. I would wake up every morning at 4:15am, hop in the shower, then walk to work and punch in by 5:45 and begin taking inventory of the workload for the next 20 hours of printing, binding, and shipping tasks. The work itself was quite enjoyable, though I did sometimes take it far too seriously. What I enjoyed more, though, was all of the walking that was required. For where I lived, the first bus of the day would get me to work 20 minutes late, so it was a non-option. I could ride a bike, like some of my colleagues at the time, but I didn't trust my roommate to not steal it3. Walking, however, is free and easy to do. It also gives a person time to listen to things.

Before I warmed to the idea of listening to podcasts, music was on an endless loop on the headset every time I'd go outside. In 2003 I invested some money into a Sony MD player and five blank disks, which would offer as much as 7 hours of music. There was one disk in particular that I would start every working day with; the red one.

On the red disk was fast-paced techno, trance, and other forms of EDM4. The very first track was Yoji Biomehanika's Ding a Ling and it was the best way to start the day. At over 10 minutes in length, I could cover almost the first kilometre and a half5 of No. 4 Road, the main street closest to the apartment. Power-walking along the sidewalk of this generally-busy road at quarter-to-five in the morning was always a treat. There would often be fog for the first half of the trek and the smell of the nearby ocean. The air was heavy with the scent of various coniferous trees. Traffic was generally absent until I reached the busier Cambie Road midway in the commute.

Every time I listen to this particular piece from Yoji Biomehanika, I'm transported back in time via the mind's eye to this point, when I was young and foolish and had so much free time. This happened earlier today when the random shuffle of the music device6 pulled up Ding a Ling - 2002 Scot Project Remix for the first time in ages. Being alone at the time, I turned the music up just as it was on those mornings 17 years ago and imagined power-walking to the point where my muscles ached from the strain. Through the fog. Past the innumerable conifers. Heart racing.

Who needs a DeLorean?


  1. It's interesting how quickly a person can amass debt at a young age. Soon after moving to Japan, I ditched credit cards and went with prepaid Visas and MasterCards. If I cannot afford a thing in cash, then I cannot afford that thing. It is better (for me) to wait a month or two than to carry a balance and pay interest or — worse — max out a card and pay it back over a period of years. Aside from my house, every large purchase in the last 15 years has been the result of saving for months or years, then paying with cash or a bank transfer; including my cars.

  2. I purchased a used HP Pavilion notebook with a PIII/850MHz processor and 1GB RAM the previous winter to replace the missing computer in my life. And, because it was a notebook, I couldn't really get trapped in the monthly upgrade cycle like I had been for 4 years between 1997 and 2001, which is where so much of my debt had come from. In 2001 I built a machine that was valued at just over $10,000 CAD. It was a beast of a machine … and it wound up being too heavy to bring with me when I moved from Ontario the following summer.

  3. He eventually did. He took the bike in the middle of the night claiming he had a job interview across town and needed to get there on time, which is rich given the guy never worked a day in his life outside of selling illicit substances.

  4. Electronic Dance Music, primarily from European artists.

  5. I walked very quickly back then. I still do when out on my own. Nozomi has helped me slow down over the years, but fast-paced power-walking has always been my M.O. … particularly if there are objectives to complete.

  6. The current music device is usually the tablet, which has a much better battery life than the phone, but both have access to the music library. Almost a decade has passed since I last used the Sony MD player, though I still have the palm-sized unit in a box upstairs with just one remaining disk; the red one.