Tag Archives: electronics

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When I graduated high school, my parents got me a Panasonic TV.

 It was great, my very own TV.

For Christmas the month before, I was given a VCR and now could tape all my favorite shows.

Several years later, I had a VCR dedicated to taping “Star Trek: The Next Generation” weekly and another taping “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

 So, some years later, I had quite a collection pre-Netflix.

The TVs of old were sturdy in that you could pile a VCR on top along with an alarm clock.  During the winter months it also added a source of heat to my room.

In our living room, we had an RCA stereo TV with a remote control.

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This too was a sweet giant picture tube device.

About 10 years ago my brother said that I should get a flat panel TV.

Why? These two were still working just fine.

Well maybe some channels worked well. When it hooked up to cable, all was good.

So soon after my brother’s visit the picture started to go.  The sound was great though.

I moved it to the back bedroom.

Again, it was a nice case and like furniture and held a lot on top of it. Plus, it weighed nearly 60 pounds.

Well, finally after about a year, it went into the trash heap.

My neighborhood collects electronics once a year.  I was sad to see it go but figured that it was time to go the flat panel route.

About two years ago, my Panasonic TV died.

Where would my clock go now? So, I got a newfangled flat panel and low and behold, six months later it was toast.

Now I have an old Toshiba TV in its place.

At night I just listen to the sound, so as it was, I could’ve kept the old stereo one.

Go figure.

The Need to Digitally Detox

If it is true that the eyes are the window to the soul, I am convinced we live in a soul-less society.

When was the last time you were in a mall, elevator, bus depot or train station and you could see someone’s eyes?

Yeah, me neither.

It is because everyone has their faces buried in their damn smartphones.

I am amazed at the number of people who gaze lovingly into their phones or at the number of people who cannot go more than 10 seconds without looking at them.

Even more amazing are the knuckleheads who stare into their phones while WALKING – other pedestrians and motorists be damned.

And forget about people who DRIVE and look at their smartphones. They are candidates for a Darwin Award.

I mention all of this because of Levi Felix, who died recently at the age of 32.

Perhaps, like me, you never heard of him. He was the founder of something called Digital Detox whose mission was “to create more mindful, meaningful and balanced lives, both online and off.”

The organization sponsored Camp Grounded, a summer camp for adults to get unplugged from technology. Attendees turned in their electronic devices and were expected – gasp – to have conversations with others in real life, or IRL as they say in digital parlance.

Campers also had choices of activities, such as crafts, archery, swimming and capture-the-flag.

Felix said he wanted to see “more people taking more time to reflect and experience what they’re doing instead of sharing it or Instagramming it or posting it on the internet.”

There was something so simple and profound about what he preached; it really resonated with me.

For my generation, the electronic devil was the “Boob Tube,” aka television, which we were warned would turn our brains to Jell-O if we watched too much of it.

I grant you there was a lot of bad television I watched as a kid but we also had a rule when I was growing up: No TV at dinner. That was a time reserved to be together as a family. Period.

Today, if you go to a restaurant, it is stunning to see how many people are seated around a table and they are all looking at their smartphones! It’s like they are allergic to talking to one another.

I know I am guilty of spending too much time on my phone, but being a newsman, it is an occupational hazard.

For others, it is an addiction in which they get a little shot of dopamine to their brains every time a notification comes from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or someone texts. (Does anyone actually even use their smartphones to call anyone anymore anyway?)

At a time when we face deep cultural, racial and political divisions, it feels like the need to have civil face-to-face conversations is more important than ever.

If I can paraphrase a popular ‘60s expression, I think it’s time we turn off our electronic devices, drop our screens and tune into each other.

 

Radio Shack: Real Family Fun

I was saddened to hear the news that Radio Shack was closing many of  its doors.

My first love with all things electrical began at Radio Shack.

When I was a boy, my dad and I would walk from the Castle Hill projects to the Korvette shopping mall and stop by Radio Shack.

He would get a little AM transistor radio that came with its very own white ear bud. Mind you, these were not like the ear buds of today, but something about the size of a broccoli spear.

Well, at home I would always have a few broken radios that I would take apart and try to glean how they worked.

Things really came together when I also had a pair of walkie-talkies.

I also discovered that if I used some wire attached to the antennae and fastened it to the riser pipe in my bedroom, I could tune into conversations farther away than most.

The transmitter was still weak, so I wasn’t able to communicate with anyone, but I am sure that I’ve said a few “rogers” and “over and outs” to the people on the other line that probably didn’t hear me.

Although one time I do recall having a conversation with someone from JFK, but it was probably just my imagination.

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One Christmas, my brother Francis got a V8 engine which consisted of over 1,000  plastic pieces and metal pieces.

When it was finished, it had the power to push a small go-cart. Since I was the youngest and lightest, I got a chance to test it out.

Over the years, I continued purchasing the little kits where you could make an alarm or shortwave radio.

I still have a zip-zap car in its original box from about 15 years ago.

It is my reminder of the good old days of model car racing. We used to get parts from Radio Shack in order to build the HO Slot cars.

Those were a lot of fun times with my dad and brothers. Real family fun.