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"I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
Remember all that random stuff about which one used to read in the Allied Radio catalog? Like, sometimes out of sheer adolescent boredom, you'd flip past the variable capacitors, plate transformers, 24-hour clocks and Viking desktop kilowatts and head out into No-Ham's Land.
I'll bet I wasted some of the best years of my young ham life comparing features, specs and cool factors of the stupidest things. Home intercoms come to mind. I dunno about you, but around the houses in which I grew up, yelling usually did the trick. But there's something about the jaunty ease of a highly-versatile home intercom that once jammed good judgement among the young, restless and electronically-inclined...and, for a moment at least, prompted one to entertain its purchase, no matter how absurd the proposition. The model above Responds to a Whisper. That's pretty responsive. So you could hear clicking dentures and Pall Mall phglem and stuff like that. Sweet!
Of course, compared to a loaded FLEX-PAK 60 watt Bogen public address system, that Knight Kit intercom was pretty small potatoes. I pretty quickly sized-up what suited my style: MXM Mixer-Preamp, the Deluxe 60 watts (90 watts peak) power amp, plus matched MX Series Phono Top for playing my old kid 78s of Burl Ives' Blue Tail Fly & Way Down Yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch at 90 watts peak.
Big fun huh? Not so fast.
After I'd turn up the PA to 11, make a few fart noises, test my Trashmen impression of Surfer Bird, play Burl at 78 rpm, then 45, then 33 and then 16...then what? Then, lacking staff writers, I realized I had a content problem. Oh yeah, I might wing a prank morning announcement for my little brother upstairs. You know, like a Duck 'n Cover nuclear war drill, or page him to immediately report to The Vice Principal. But he'd obviously get wise in no time and then what? Back to fart noises? Even at 90 peak watts, that gets old fast.
So as usual, I'd let the PA pipe dream go the way of all my obsessive, compulsive, idle radio cataloging and get about the business of mooning over something I could really use.
Somehow I missed those. In the 1960 Allied Radio catalog 190A they abutted public address systems, just periferally enough to get passed over during my prior PA due diligence, which was cool - kind of like being a truffle pig and hitting pay dirt in a played-out patch.
No, we didn't have so much as a wading pool. And while there was some talk in the neighborhood about a community water ballet, it was just that...yackety-yack.
But experiments...now that got my attention. And the MM2-FU W flush mounting option gave me an idea...you know, for the next half hour or so.
Sometimes I'm haunted by thoughts if I could only have back that half hour my life might have turned out very differently. But as Kierkegaard so elegantly suggested above, what difference could the difference make?
Best to keep calm, open my Allied Radio catalog to any random page & turn up Edith Piaf's Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.
Old, New & Improved Kinda Sorta.
Seven years ago we looked back on the lost world of parent and child parallel universes. It's hard to imagine an engaged helicopter parent of today, in effect, kinda sorta stomping on the head of a child improving himself with educational playthings. No big deal though. No psyches were damaged, at least no dings you couldn't knock out with a little therapy and nice set of auto body hammers and dollies and feather up smartly with a bucket of Bondo. Oh yeah. Tough Love. Like the Book of Changes, the I Ching, that good old ancient Chinese Eight Ball always says to just about everything, NO BLAME.
Annoying, yes. But it also struck me funny at the time and still does. The experience itself was educational, in the sense that I began to appreciate the warm absurdity of human relationships, as well as get about the ridiculous business of worshipping electronic boxes arranged in a little altar in the basement, abandoning myself to the mystery cult that is amateur radio.
Still abandoned after well over fifty years, I marvel how little about my situation has changed, but for a mop of white hair, a lack of somebody stomping on the ceiling, and a lot more desktop devices.
Hmm. Well, now that I think about it, to jigger my favorite Lou Reed pronouncement, maybe these ARE different times after all, at least a little. Let's compare and contrast a painterly sketch of your 'umble cartoonist made a few years ago by an artist friend. There's a portrait too, but I like the way this is just the facts Ma'am.
Instead of a young dog-faced ham sitting in front of boxes in the semi-darkness, to these eyes it looks like an Old Man staring into a couple of institutional-sized cartons of saltines. Otherwise, six of one, half dozen of another I'd say. In fact, the smaller box is my old Knight Kit T-50 transmitter and the other is my old Hallicrafters SX-28 Sky Buddy receiver, both of which I've sold since this was sketched. Yeah, I've got some other radio boxes left, plus a mess of computer boxes through which I draw, but you know how it is with boxes...you sit with them until you can't any more. Isn't that a funny-odd-haha-all-but lifetime arc for a dog-faced old ham?
Sit Jeff, sit.
That's what we do, we guess...and that's no royal we, that's me and my loyal, if imaginary, ham radio pal Dashiell Hammutt, AKA Dash!
Above all, we aim to please. And we hope you find Dashtoons' Pre-Fall Double Feature Deep Dish Navel-Gaze entertaining in some strange way. Which, if you think about how solitary, introspective and downright idiosyncratic in a good/bad but not generally ugly way our hobby tends to be, might well feed an insatiable pent-up demand for windy self-referential reflection not met by Big Ham Media, not that there's anything wrong with them.
And not to worry, we're not a cookbook. As ever, Dashtoons is here to Serve Hams.
Well, maybe not every single one. You know, like that one charmer who speed-walked past our Dash!Comics hamfest table, pointedly avoiding eye contact and shaking his head.
But we got a strong feeling he'll come around.