Ghosts

I continue to scan the images and, so far, I’m well over 17TB (that’s 17,000 gigabytes) of images. I have duplicated each disk and keep one set at my mother in law’s home.

The images I’m seeing are grouped into two sets. The first set are the images made before I was born, and the second set were those images made after I was born. I can further divide the second set into two categories. Category one is the ones where I was not there when the images were captured, and category two are the ones where I am part of the image.

The first set provides questions that I can often answer by consulting my grandmother’s extensive diary collection. However, this breaks down for the pictures before my grandparents were married in 1915. All is not lost for these images. Sometimes I get lucky with the pre 1915 images. Often my grandparents visited the same places and visited with the same people. If I can recognize the landmarks and/or faces in the old and new images, I can use her diaries to deduce information about the older images. It’s quite a bit of detective work.

The second set of images, especially those in category two, bring back memories. The memories are not always clear though and the clarity of the memory seems to have nothing to do with the importance of the event that was captured on film.

Pictures of my future wife asleep on the couch at her home, “ET” (evil twin) and Pest (my cat) napping on a couch at my home, or one of my fiancĂ©e (so far, I have found only two pictures of her) helping a young kid don a life jacket at a lake. I remember these things with what I think is astonishing clarity, yet they were hardly important events.

Pictures of my master’s degree hooding ceremony, a picture me standing in front of a jet after its successful test flight with the new avionics equipment I helped design, a picture of me at my first day at work for the phone company, my wife and I at our wedding rehearsal dinner. These events are probably (or should be) far more important than those in the first list, yet the memories of these events are faded and indistinct….like ghosts…and it takes me a few minutes of looking at the images to clear up the memory.

Sometimes my remembering insignificant events, while not remembering important events, makes me wonder about myself, but, I guess, as they say, “It is what it is”.

Earp

Earp is a town in the California desert that is tucked tight against the Colorado River. Across the Colorado River is Parker, Arizona.

When driving home from college, I would pass through the twin cities of Parker and Earp. I would need to fill my car’s gas tank in Parker, but I had to set my travel schedule so that I arrived in Parker before the gas stations closed at 9pm. In the summer, it took some careful planning to leave late enough to not be too uncomfortable in my unairconditioned car, yet still arrive in time to “gas up”.

One time I knew I wasn’t going to make it to Parker by 9pm, so I took along a 2-1/2 gallon can of gasoline and used that to make it home. When I got home and went to the gas station in the morning, the gas pump shut off at 7.8 gallons. So, it took about 10.3 gallons of gas to make the trip. My car had a 10 gallon gas tank. There were no gas stations far enough from home but before Parker to make a difference in the gasoline situation and between Parker-Earp and home there was wonderfully empty desert. So, I MAYBE could have made it home, but….

So, without further talking, a picture of Earp.

The film strip has just this one image, so I can’t date it precisely, but it was with the images showing the progress of the construction of my childhood home. I know the construction images were made in late 1963, so I’m somewhat certain that these images were made around that same time.

Still Scanning Memories

I recently found some old 120 (or possibly 620) format “Black and White” film negatives showing images of the construction of my childhood home. For her August 21, 1963 diary entry, my grandmother wrote that she had received a letter from my mom saying that the area for the house had been “scraped off and the builder has started work”. Since I can see the “scraping off” had been already done, this image was made in mid to late August, 1963. I was not yet 3 years old

I remember riding on a road grader in the desert and I’m guessing I was riding it when the area for the house was being smoothed off, but I can’t be sure. I find this memory amazing, but I guess I can see why I might remember something so awesome as me (thinking I am) driving a REAL road grader instead of pushing a Tonka Toy road grader while making the engine noises with my mouth! I know I don’t remember anything else from then.

I am “the little one”. My then 9 year old brother is behind me.

R-388 Visual Inspection

I don’t have any of my radio repair equipment at the house, so I couldn’t do much with the radio besides download a “pdf” copy of the maintenance manual, read what others have said online about the radio, and complete a visual inspection of the radio.

The manual is a typical military manual with *EVERYTHING* that could ever be needed included in the text and illustrations.

Nearly all of the people posting online about the radio agreed in saying this radio was very reliable, very well built and had few “gotcha” issues.

So, it was time for the visual inspection.

The covers on the radio were all there, as were *all* (probably 25, but I didn’t count them) of the 4-40 screws with the internal tooth lock washers that secure the covers in place. According to the online posts, the covers are often missing.

The fungus resistant coating on the wiring bundles and components appears to be undisturbed nor did I notice any “period incorrect” components. This leads me to believe that the radio’s wiring is undisturbed. Undocumented modifications can make it very difficult to fix a failed radio, so no disturbances to the wiring and components is good.

On the screw adjustments is a red insulating varnish that looks like red fingernail polish. This is “Glyptal 1202” and is made by Glyptal (Corporation). In this radio, the “stuff” is used to prevent vibration from affecting the adjustment points. If something is deliberately changed with a screwdriver, the varnish flakes away. None of the adjustments appear to be disturbed. This is good. I suppose it is possible that someone reapplied the product, but in my experience, most people don’t bother to “repaint” screw adjustments that they have moved.

The only possible problem that I could see is the rectifier tube, is missing. 99% of the radio operates on DC power and the rectifier tube is what converts the AC power to DC power. Without it, there is no DC power anywhere within the radio. Sometimes people will wire solid state diodes under chassis to replace the tube and then remove the tube. This was not the case here, so the tube could have been removed for use in another project, or it could have been removed after an electrical fault damaged the tube and the prior owner never bothered to fix the problem. When I get my shop set up again, I’ll be able to check for anything that could have damaged the tube and, if needed, fix whatever might have failed.

If I get impatient, I’ll go over and use my friend’s (Test Daughter‘s father) shop.

Since I have very weak self-control, I’ll very likely end up in my friend’s house.

Swap Meet Meets Self Control

Today, I went to a swap meet (flea market, tag sale, street market, whatever) . It’s not that I needed anything, but I just decided to go and just walk around awhile to see “what was out”.

Well, I found exactly what I didn’t need, especially with the impending move, and I bought it.

There was a seller there with some old electronics parts and a R-388 receiver that was in fairly good condition. The receiver was untested, but complete and the seller had been marking the price down and down and down and then down some more. If the asking price had not been so cheap, I would not have had the cash in my wallet to buy it. But I had recently used the $60 “cash back” option when I last used my debit card at a store and, well, sometimes I have very weak self control. Sigh… 🙂

The Collins Radio Company made the receiver during the 1950s and gave it the model number of 51J-3. The US Army Signal Corps bought it for use in the military and gave it the designation of R-388/URR.

I haven’t had a chance to take it out of the cabinet to look at and I have fought the temptation to “just plug it in and see if it works”. Old radios can have parts that can fail after long periods of non-use and a failed part can cause damage to other parts in the radio, some that are not easily replaceable, so I need to be check things first.

Still, it’s neat old radio and the engineer geek in me finds it intriguing. I am looking forward to when we have moved and I have the electronics shop set back up again. For what it’s worth, 90% of the parts in the radio are fairly common items that I have in my collection of old parts, so unless there is something wrong with one of the more unusual parts, it shouldn’t be a big deal to fix…if it even needs to be fixed….radios made by Collins have a reputation for reliability.

As an aside, a few hours after I got back from the swap meet, I was at the grocery store and I noticed the store now has a box full of used books, where one can put a dollar into a can and take a book. In with the romance novels and stock market advice, circa 1970, I found a book with an interesting cover. “One Second After”. I put my dollar into the can and brought the book home. This book is a fictional account on the aftermath of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack on the United States of America as told from the point of view of the townsfolk of a small North Carolina town.

I’ll let you, the reader, look up EMP on the web. The book is rather grim about how things devolve after the attack.

Connecting the two threads……this kind of radio, with no solid state, or computer stuff in it, is far more resistant, but not totally immune, to the effects of an EMP event. It seems odd that I would buy this radio, and then end up getting “that” book.

For what it’s worth, I hope the book’s depressing storyline never comes to pass. I’m much too old for such stuff.

I Did It Again

Our daughter is coming home from Michigan for a few days around Christmas. We are excited to see her and I’m sure she’s excited to see us. I’m also excited to see how she and the dogs react to seeing each other for the first time in almost 6 months.

When our daughter asked if, while she was here, she could borrow the car to visit some college friends, my first thought was “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do something dumb.”

That’s when I realized I was doing it again. She will be 24 in a couple of weeks. At age 22, my fiancĂ©e and I drove across the country by ourselves in an old Volkswagen Beetle and we camped almost every night we were on the road. At age 24, had God not changed my plans, I would have been married for over 6 months. I felt I was responsible enough.

The moment I thought, “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do anything dumb.”, I realized that **I** was the one being dumb. If I was responsible enough at age 24 to be married, then our daughter, a few days before her 24th birthday, would be responsible enough to “not do anything dumb” with a car….after all, I had helped to raise her.

My worry was replaced with “OK. No problem.”

Pooh

Shortly after my wife and I were married, Pest, my first cat, died. My wife mentioned to one of her coworkers that our (my?) cat had died and another coworker mentioned that they had been seeing a small black kitten in the bushes around their apartment. The coworker said she had asked around about that cat and no one wanted, nor claimed it.

My wife told me about this and said if I wanted another cat, I should go get it. I went to the apartment and the kitten walked right up to me. I brought him home and a couple of days later, I took him to the vet for a health check and to be neutered.

The person who told my wife about the cat had called him “Poo”, but I decided to change the spelling to Pooh because I felt it was slightly more dignified.

I went from having a large cat to a tiny cat. At his heaviest, he was only 4 pounds (just under 2 kilos).

In the picture, Pooh is sitting atop the toilet in the bathroom. He would lay there whenever the shower was being used and as soon as the shower was empty, he would jump down into the shower so he could play with the water that was still dripping from the showerhead.

Besides playing in the water, he would lay in my lap and wait for me to print something out on a dot matrix printer. When the printer started buzzing, he would jump up on the printer and his head would snap back and forth to follow the printhead. I was then working on the thesis for my master’s degree, and he had a lot of opportunity to lay in my lap and to watch the printhead. These antics always made me laugh.

A Story From My Father

December 8, 1941, around 4am, Cornado Island, near San Diego, California.

The entire day before and through the night, marines were preparing as quickly as possible for a possible invasion of San Diego; Concertina wire was spread across the beach, machine guns emplaced, foxholes dug, mortars emplaced, field telephone wire strung, ammunition stockpiled. He said on reflection it probably wouldn’t have done much against an all-out invasion attempt, but it was the best that could be done at the time. And, like he always told me, “You prepare for the worst as best as you can….and hope for the best.”

At 4am, in the heavy fog, a strange tapping was heard coming from behind their lines. The marines were tense and especially so because the visibility was near zero. Pistols and rifles were trained toward the noise. Dad, by then a corporal, very quietly, “Hold Fire. Hold Fire.” to the marines around him. He had decided that if anyone was trying to sneak up on them, they wouldn’t be making so much noise.

The tapping was getting louder and louder. Soon, they saw that the noise was coming from a red tipped white cane. A blind man was out for an early morning walk. Everyone suddenly went back to their “normal” tenseness.

“Sir. You need to go home. You’re in amongst a bunch of very nervous marines. I’ll have someone escort you so you don’t get shot.”

Annoying to Good

Today I noticed one of the lawn sprinklers had a puddle around it and decided that the most likely problem was caused by the rubber diaphragm in the valve was needing to be replaced.

Normally it’s easy to get the part and kind of annoying to replace the part.

I need to turn a manual water valve to off, remove the electric solenoid, remove 8 screws and lift the top from the rest of the valve. This requires I lay on the ground, reach into the valve box and have enough light to see what I’m doing. Then I have to put it all back together and, for some reason, the valve nearly always leaks when it’s all back together…which requires I take it apart to correct my error.

This time, the two nearby hardware stores did not have the part, nor did the two closest large home improvement stores. The third place I tried indicated, on their website, that there were 29 of the parts in stock. So, I go there. The web site was wrong. I finally found someone to check on the store’s internal web site and they called to get someone to go see if the parts were actually in stock.

The part was in stock and it was set aside for me., so, I drove the 20 miles/30km, each way, to get the part.

By this time I was somewhere between annoyed and amazed.

I got home, replaced the part….AND IT WORKED THE FIRST TIME!!! No leaks. So, I guess I’m “even” in how things turned out.

Yes, it’s still warm enough in the USA desert southwest to be able to work on the lawn sprinkler system…it was 79F/26C. Don’t worry, you can laugh at me in the summer when it’s 120F/49C