Yesterday, I finally retired the pair of Jensen desktop speakers that have been dutifully audibilizing my home computers for the past 22-plus years. It’s not that they failed. They worked fine. It’s that for the past five or so years they’ve been intermittently connected to another dimension. Specifically they’ve been broadcasting at veeeery low volumes and typically only early in the mornings, some Spanish-language talkradio station — unknown whether it was a licensed one on the AM or FM bands, or some pirate shortwaver.

All I know is that typically in the still of the early mornings, I could come down and if I listened carefully I could hear it, and upon doing so I then couldn’t get it out of my ears. And no, I’m not crazy. Click the following link for my search of radio broadcasts through my damn computer speakers and you’ll see I’m neither nutz nor alone. The problem is ascribed to Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), with the most likely cause being my proximity to such broadcast origins combined with any unshielded speaker wiring connected to my computer, that thus acts as an antenna.

The solutions are generally as follows: 1) Move the speakers to another location. 2) Shorten up the wires. 3) Purchase and attach filtering Ferrite clamps or rings to the wiring . I tried the first two, to no avail. I even swapped out the connector wire with others I happened to have. No go. So I was just about to purchase the last suggested option, when I decided to hell with ferrite doohickies, and instead just buy a new pair that were properly shielded. It didn’t take long and later that day I unceremoniously removed the Jensens and plugged in a properly protected $22 set of Logitechs.

In the predawn this morning? When I sat down at my computer with fingers crossed to the point of being painful and brought her out of sleep mode? I listened. I listened caaaaaarefully. ¿El silencio? ¡Era de oro!

 

In the months of 1989 leading up to the birth of my daughter things were not at all great financially or emotionally, but at the time we had a relatively sweet deal managing the 20-unit Van Nuys apartment building in which we were living in exchange for free rent on the two-bedroom we occupied.

Not long after she was born in September of that year it was decided that we would relocate to manage a building in Burbank, almost triple the number of units at only about half-off the rent, in part because a friend of my then-wife’s lived in the building and encouraged her to take the opportunity. There were pluses: it was in a better neighborhood; a newer building with nicer amenities. But in the end it increased the stretch on our finances and our already rocky relationship to the breaking point and I ended up moving out in January of 1990.

After all this time, my biggest regret of that whole inevitable failure as a man and a husband and a father? Leaving behind the stereo I’d inherited from my mother when I moved out on my own in 1985. Mind you, it was nothing fancy. Made by Admiral, it was called the Solid State Sterophonic High-Fidelty system, and without getting too overly sentimental, it played aaaaaall the music across the first 21 years of my life. Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Nat King Cole, Henry Mancini, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mendelsohn, Dvorak, Fleetwood Mac, Vicki Sue Robinson, The Beatles, The Who, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, countless Broadway soundtracks, Louis Prima, Kansas, Journey, Queen, and on and on and on.

What happened was I had at some point in my early independence I upgraded to a Marantz system and thus unceremoniously relegated my mom’s to the garage storage compartment where it sat throughout the duration of meeting my future ex-wife, moving in with her, getting married, getting pregnant, et cetera. Then when it came time for that move to Burbank, I couldn’t find the key to the storage compartment’s lock and just said to hell with it and left it behind.

Compounded by my mom’s disappointment that I didn’t bring it back to her when I quit using it, my abandonment of it has bothered me ever since, up to and including this past weekend, when it disturbed me that we didn’t have a functioning phonograph with which to play my Nat King Cole Christmas album this season. That in turn triggered the thought of the number of Christmases it spun on the able Admiral and so of course in this day and age I googled “Admiral High-Fidelty Stereo System,” and wouldn’t you know? BOOM. In full jaw-drop, I found one available on eBay, looking pretty much in a similar well-worn condition that my mom’s was when I banished it to the garage:

s-l1600

It should be no surprise seeing that picture auto-triggered some verklemptification.

According to the Indiana seller’s description everything works but the record player, which is in need of a needle. The asking price is a prohibitive $329.99, especially considering I ordered a suitcase style self-contained stereo phonograph from Wayfair for $70 that should arrive by Friday.

But I’d be a liar if I denied putting this old lady on my Watchlist. And you really shouldn’t be too surprised if I end up putting in a low ball offer as we get near the end of the 27 days left at auction.

tree2016

Ever since I first saw the Peanuts Christmas show some forty-cough years ago, I sat firmly in the camp of anti-fake trees. But this last couple holidays, Susan and I have just not really gotten into the spirit. Sure we put up our outside lights and a wreath and some other stuff, but a tree…? Nah, it just seemed more work — and money — than it was worth.

A couple weeks ago, Susan said she was going to check out the selection of pre-lighted, pretend trees at a local retailer. She came home with a box. The contents of which took literally five minutes to set up. Factor in some Balsam fir oil and a diffuser and at a glance and sniff, she looks and smells purty dang genuine. But even if she isn’t, our spirit is.

Long story short? I’m no longer a card-carrying member of the anti-artificial tree club.

For as long as I’ve been traveling Jefferson Boulevard either by bike or car, I’ve bemoaned the bunkerfication of so many of the buildings that line it — especially those between Crenshaw and La Brea. Squat, brutal, mostly windowless boxes seemingly fortified to repel looters and rioters, there is little in the way of architectural significance or a demonstration of history, and there are little opportunities for beautification.

One of these fortresses I’ve long appreciated (going back to 2007) sits on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Victoria, one block west of Crenshaw. I’ve admired it because whoever owned it allowed it to become fully engulfed in a thriving foliage that they then kept properly manicured. In effect, making organic and giving life to what I assumed was just another soulless nondescript structure hidden beneath.

Sometime last year whatever business was operating within it vacated and For Sale signs were posted on the walls. Eventually those came down and then one day a couple months ago, I did a double-take, fully shocked when I found the massive amount of greenery had been removed down to the last leaf… as if overnight.

Much to my delight the building it had long hidden from view was not a featureless box but a beautiful brick relic, and in the weeks of finger-crossing that passed I was overjoyed to see a restoration at work. After it was completed I snapped this drive-by shot and went in vain searching through some of my old bike commute vids to see if I had a frame that would show it in its previous state. Nope.

Then it dawned on me to Google Streetview the location, and as such I’m at least able to illustrate to you the dramatic then and now. I hope you enjoy it (click to enlargify the images):

before after

I tend to not get caught up in the “supermoon” hype. I think every full moon is a super moon, and it seems there’s been a proliferation of announcements of the events in the press (I’d never heard the term until a few years ago) perhaps fueled by social media.

Nevertheless at about 6:15pm I wound up breaking away from the Seahawks/Patriots game on TV, dragging my tripod-mounted spotting scope upstairs to a vantage point at the east-facing master bathroom window and I managed to get a pretty good snap of the thing courtesy me placing my iPhone’s camera lens to the scope’s eyepiece, balancing on the sink and holding my breath in an effort to stabilize everything while at the same time trying to center the satellite in the frame, while triggering the shutter — really MUCH easier said than done.

Having said that, I was able to get one of the most detailed shots of the moon I’ve ever had (click the image below to enlargify) in my many years of amateurishly pointing various devices up at it and snapping. PS. Don’t marvel about the glow emanating from the moon. That’s basically the extent of the viewing area offered by the scope.

Supermoon 2016

Dickens gave us: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The contemporary poet Rob Bass wrote: “Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain.” So true.

Deride me for my informal television-viewing fashion choice or mock me the blinding white translucence of my legs if you must, but more importantly, what these two stills from our livingroom cam catch are my reactions the moment Dodger Charlie Culbserson’s fly ball became the incredible game- and division-winning walk-off homerun in the bottom of the tenth inning Sunday, followed shortly thereafter by the realization that I’ve just heard Vin Scully’s last call of a play at home.

Exuberance. Bereavement.

elation

sadness

 

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