Results tagged “Radio Shack”

100_4331.JPGMan does this thing bring back some memories. We never had a lot of money as I was growing up. We were never very stereo orientated. My brother never had a stereo except in his car. I didn't have one until a neighbor was moving and gave me his old Soundesign turntable (with an amp) and receiver/8 track player (also with an amp) and two 5" speakers in a box. I was really thankful. I bought a few 8-tracks from Goodwill across the street and I had a few 45's which I used to play on my brother's portable GE record player. That was it. We never were high fidelity kids. The Soundesign crap I'd been given for free was the closest thing to HI-Fi I'd own. I did get all high tech with a Hitachi boom box (which will be featured in a future junk blog) so I could play back my growing tape collection. That was decent. I also started listening to a lot of 80's radio. Pretty soon I was bringing home LPs from the library to record on my boom box. It was that time that I've coined the phrase "Kneedeep In The Hoopla Is The S*IT" as yes, I enjoyed that Starship album, or the radio told me to enjoy it.

100_4332.JPGAfter a bit of use, the turntable amp gave out and that BSR turntable with Soundesign guts gave up the ghost. The amp in my stereo was also a bit wobbly, and that's when I started looking at all of the "modern" Soundesign "rack systems" that Zayre and other discounters had. They were shiny. Some of them had a lot of blinky lights. I don't think any of them were more than $299 with most in the $100-$200 range. They were the best that Zayre had to offer. I think there was even one that came with a television, and that one was expensive. I got this one for Christmas. It cost $149. It had "high speed" tape dubbing. It had an "aux" input. It had two large speakers which were 6" drivers.  It had an integrated turntable, but was separate from the stereo. I bought a double LP "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" (movie soundtrack) for $1 from Camelot Records and Tapes in Westgate mall. It played records but sounded like it was. A rock stylus immediately wearing on the cheap record. The tape deck dubber wasn't quite as good as my nice Hitachi boombox, but it played tapes better because of bigger speakers. Believe me, we went through all this in the 80's, 90's and Oughts until cell phones and computers made all of this junk obsolete. Of course, there is much better equipment. I'd say that in the 90's, Hi Fi really became better and cheaper. Right then however, Soundesign stereo was the S*IT!

100_4333.JPGActually, the pressed board of the rack matched the speakers and it was a handsome sight. I'd imagine there were many hours spent by minimum wage Zayre employees setting these stereo racks up and busting through the pressed board by over tightening. Soundesign had the fake EQ design down. The shiny EQ was all the rage back in the 80's. Everybody had a separate EQ and some had the bouncing display. Oooooooh. Soundesign made larger EQ's on their stereos, there were some that were even 5 band, but the majority were three band, just looked like more with double sliders. Shiny plastic went a long way back in the day. How did it sound? Well, the whole stereo sounded better than a boom box. That's the best thing I can say. It was HI-FI to me. Dammit. They had so many pretty stereos at Zayre. I gots me a pretty good one. 

100_4336.JPG Look at all that pressed board. It seems they made a ton of stuff out of that formaldehyde laden cheap stuff way back when. I guess they have kind of phased the stuff out now? The DC out was for the turntable. It did have a pre-amp for the turntable. I never saw it work with the better turntable I bought a few years later. The Aux got very little use until... I think I hooked my VCR Up to it a few times, but my VCR was across the room and was a mono unit, so all it did was make the hiss louder. Yes, this did me well for a year or two, until everything changed. My friend Pete purchased a 12" record from Kraftwerk. It was the "Musique Non-Stop" maxi single. We came home to my place and played it. it started with a robotic voice saying "Boing Boom Tschak". I had a thing for comedy records and had a few tapes I'd made from library records of Dr. Demento discs. This "Boing Boom Tschak" was almost novelty to me, but something came alive. I taped it. I played it over and over. In a week, when my friend Marc and I were up in Michigan and I bought "Electric Cafe" and down the rabbit hole I went. 

100_4334.JPG Soon after I had all the Kraftwerk on tape and then I got into DEVO and likewise got all of it and then got deeper. Radio was less and less where I got my music. This used to be be the tape storage area where I kept all of the tapes of my growing store bought tape collection. Then my friend Steve bought the first Sony CD Portable player and man I liked the sound it produced. At the same time, prices were dropping and there was at least 6 appliance-electronics stores operating in my area, all at their throats trying to get our business. Mace electronics was the newest in the area, and when they had a Teac Three Beam 2x Oversampling model for $149 (sans remote), somehow I had the cake to buy it. I went to Camelot in Westgate and purchased Electric Cafe for 18.99 on CD. (Where I got the cake from, I've no idea.) I hooked it up to this stereo and instantly I was really REALLY HIGH FIDELITY. It sounded even better through the Koss headphones I'd purchased from Forest City Home Centers (which also had a appliance and electronics selection back when) and loved every minute of the lack of hiss from the CD player. From there, I only used the tape decks to record tapes from the CD's I'd bought. Of course, I had Foreigner "Records" and Van Halen's "1984" and Beach Boys "Fantastic Summer Best Of" , but I traded them all when my friend Bill started selling CDs and got me hooked on Frank Zappa, Negativland and Nitzer Ebb.

Well, Soundesign made systems in the 90's. They even made some that were re-branded Radio Shack. One had a HUGE upright loading CD player clad in pressed board that was more of a space taker than a good sounding CD player. Still, even the worst CD players sounded better than records or tapes right? They made other portable sound equipment, but none of it was more than a slightly better GPX product. Yeah, I was glad they were around at a time when the sounds started to mean stuff to me. Now, a portable computer tablet through good headphones containing all of my music sounds better than the old Soundesign. My computer speakers sound better. My LAPTOP sounds better...um..with external speakers... Koss...

-Ric

100_4303.JPGLook at that late 80's early 90's junk madame secretary is wearing. Holy crap, there's nothing on that terminal. Yes, it's likely a terminal! MMmmmm IBM clickey keyboards. I still use this one to this day. Just something about the feel of them. They are big and I have hammer fat hands. She's got a scarf with a pin. Must be cold in that office. She's also wearing a Radio Shack DuoFone-129.  It was a staple in Radio Shack catalogs pretty much until they didn't make catalogs any more. Even after, they stuck around until wireless and digital stuff made these little pieces of fun completely obsolete.

100_4304.JPGImagine being a model for DuoFone products. The gal on the front had a brilliant modelling career and was in over 50 corporate videos. The gal on the back? Porn. No, I kid.  It's the guy in the tie who was into porn. Ha. No, I kid. Actually, all the people on some of Radio Shack's products were around for a few years. If I was a kid and mommy was on a box, I'd be proud to have a pic of mom on the back of a product that sat on shelves collecting dust until some poor sucker bought it for a gig at a phone soliciting company near him. Of course, most would throw out the box this thing came in. Most. I kept everything.

100_4307.JPGYes, even the receipt. It's from a location that no longer exists in a mall that was torn down from a company that is barely hanging on. I hung on to the receipt and it didn't fade like the new thermal ones do. Of course, I can buy a scanner to scan them and keep them from fading. WTF! Things were much simpler in the 90's. This was purchased in 1992. I was likely between gigs at many closing appliance stores so I chose to earn some extra cake by returning to the place I'd worked before. Phone soliciting. Yecch.

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Nowadays, they have something called auto diallers. They plug in a computer list and you only talk with someone when they connect with a person. Hence, why you receive many calls a day where there is a two or three second gap from when you pick up and say "F**K YOU" and when the person asks "Is Mrs. P. Oussee there?"  It's totally digital. Once you get to work, you're taking calls, trying to see if some sucker will buy 14 shoddy windows or credit card protection or whatever junk is out there trying to see if there are any peeps still willing to part with money via phone. At least the company I worked for had legitimate products to sell and decent offers to make to customers that had already had the product. Oh yeah, this DuoFone took 4 AA batteries.  Gameboy? No, this won't play Tetris.

100_4309.JPGI got a gig there before I even decided that home electronics sales would be my future. I needed a gig and my brother worked there. He said they were always looking for bodies and if I met a minimum quota, I could pull down a little cash. They started me in a division  that sold subscriptions to Weekly Reader publications. I liked that crap when I was a kid.  I had to sell Sweet Pickles, something that helped children learn their ABCs. A little training and  I was on the phones. We were provided computerized "leads" that they kept in big files. They had NEW leads, that hadn't been called by anyone. They had "day time" and "night time" leads and they had well called leads they kept calling in hopes that just one more potential customer would pick up. We had to hold up old style phones, and they always smelled like Lysol because that's what you used to clean them before pressing your ear to them and spitting into the receiver. My room was filled with about 25 others who all were giving the same pitch. "Little Johnny is ready for the next grade of book crap and mindless mazes and word games and generic characters. Want to subscribe again this year? What? He didn't use it? How about your next youngest. How about a subscription to the next grade pap and promo TV Stars and non offensive pop music stars magazine? No? How about a Playboy subscription for you? " Well, that's jumping to another line.

100_4310.JPGI washed out of that job in a few weeks. I dialled my fingers off and got very little in sales. I guess they wanted to see who would wash out. Actually, the last day I was there, I called someone who started crying as this was a subscription for a child that was deceased. I figured that was a fitting end to a job I never really liked and dragged myself into each day. Hell, I could see if I could get back my weekend biscuit making gig at Mickey Macs. 

This phone device let you use either the handset or the head set. Had a neat LED battery test button. A switch that I don't know what it did, and the volume.  I think they sold one that had the dial pad on it as well and could be used as a complete phone. I wouldn't have had very much money back then, so I used the base of my first credit card to get into deeper debt and spent $50 on this. Why? My brother, as I mentioned, had worked at the solicitor and told me to go to a different "program" where they sold magazine subscriptions to those about to expire or had expired a few months. I went to work for that division and well, life was good for a bit. I actually made some money over what I was getting as an hourly. For a part time gig, I thought it was okay. Um.... Well....

100_4311.JPGI got this headset so I could be hands free. I wouldn't have to breathe in Lysol to remove caked on make up or ounces of cigarette spittle. It also meant I could be free while flipping leads and dialing.  A few things bugged me. When we made a sale, we would need to hold up our arm and snap. That way the supervisor of the shift could write it down. Sort of giving all of us motivation to sell sell sell. Trouble was, some of the supes would be very vocal. I'd be making a sale and they would shout my name and say I was making a sale. Must have been wonderful to the people I was selling too. A few people had nick names and I would hear "Bubbles Be Bangin" and "Dingman Be Doin' It" . No, I'm not making those up. It's why I remembered them in particular. They reminded me of carnival barkers. "Weeeeeee'veeeeee got another Biiiiig WiIIIINNNER" Then "You Get A Car! You Get A Car! You Get A Car" We were lucky if it was a candy bar.

After a while, I got so good at dialing, they would hand me packs of the old leads so I could run through them. While the phone was dialing, I would write short stories or other worthless crap and one of the supes got in my face about it.  At that point I went to the manager of the division and complained, and the manager saw my numbers, and spoke to the super who just looked the other way from then on. By this time, the job was harder to drag myself too and eventually I stopped showing up.  My retail cashier, fast food employee, electronics and appliance sales skills still kept me in wages until I got serious about some kind of radio gig. Yes, I have quite the collection of name tags and hair nets. Mike Meyers. Skitch. Thanks.

-Ric

Reg-U-Late-Tor

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100_4219.JPGWhat the hell is this? "Converts 120 VAC to 12VDC". Micronta? Red Led?  Sure I know. A man built this! It's a power supply!  Where'd it come from? What was it used for? Do I have any other stupid questions before I give up the answer? I'll provide you a question. How come all the cheap meatballs available frozen always taste like dookie and only the better ones cost a ton of money? Oh yeah, because there's MEAT in REAL MEATBALLS. What the hell is in those cheap meatballs? Do you make a meatball from "mechanically separated chicken, pork and beef"? Mom used to make them from ground beef and garlic. No bread crumbs, no egg. Hunts sauce. She must have used an egg bath to hold them together, but no stuffing at all. Even when we were so poor that my brother was stealing the last piece of American cheese from the bread in my lunch, mom made un-stuffed meatballs. . Maybe I just need to cook real food rather than using the microwave to resurrect Bologna balls from the depths of the freezer. 

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In a nice steel box. With a real appliance switch. Paint job in that crinkled paint that was used on tools and heavy equipment. So, back when I was heavy into Citizen's Band radio, I used my radios in my car and that was that. 12V was cigarette lighter stuff. The only way to use something that was set up for 12V in the house, was to get a converter if it didn't have one built in. Most CBs didn't. Oh sure, there were base stations and other radio equipment but they were way beyond my pay grade back then.  Even this was costly. I think it was sold for $35, which when you were earning "triple gold" 25 hours a week 3.45 an hour (after 6 months) , it was a bit of an expense. I spent it so that I could talk on the CB to a nearby friend when he wasn't allowed to talk on the phone. He bought the very first portable Sony CD player and kept a quiet library of CD's but his parents would hear none of it. He had some strict parents. He must have a lead lined bedroom to be talking to me on the CB, or his parents thought he was praying... to a guy named Trapper and to the truckers on Ch. 19 from the nearby freeway.

100_4223.JPG That was my CB name. Trapper. It was also my Photon name. I guess I'd taken a liking to the name Trapper. Did I trap anything? Nope. Did I keep anything? Lots of stuff on this junk blog. Did I work in morning radio for years on a adult contemporary station in Cleveland? No. Was I from MASH? That's where I got the name. Did I ever get really good at Photon? Nope. Was I ever the top player at Photon? Nope. (Oh yeah, Photon was the first laser tag game and it was played on a sound stage similar to the catacombs of Star Trek: The Next Generation except in base grey rather than 80's pink and aqua.)  I forget what my friend's CB name was. You needed a fake "handle" if you were on the radio. Now, my friend Boomer would have something to say about this message on the bottom. "No user serviceable parts...blah blah blah" A lot of the CB peeps that had base stations at home usually did HAM radio and if you were a HAM likely you knew your way around the soldiering iron. Boomer BUILDS this stuff.

He recently replaced the blown caps on a cheap digital TV converter that I bought from a thrift store for four bucks because it had the remote. (How worthless are those boxes if they don't have the remote to operate them.) He also built his AM carrier current radio station. (Legal. Uses the wires that bring power to your home to broadcast for a few blocks.) His home TV was upgraded to 32" LCD after he picked one up from the trash and fixed the power supply. Okay, enough about repairs. I learned how to soldier when I worked cookie cutter repairs on CRT monitors for a few months. I still can't tell an OHM rating on a resistor. I guess I'm a user as well.

100_4222.JPGThis was cheap tech, but it was damn good tech. It still works. As it did, as it does. It still has the plastic wrap that protected the back side from scratching. Better yet, it was a bunch of electronics MADE IN THE USA! Made in 1984. Made in the good 'ol USA! I would have thought sure it was made in Taiwan by then.  The only thing bad about this is you had to buy two jacks for the power outlet. I think later they were screws. When you wired up some speaker cable to output these jacks, hooked them to the wires of your CB, it sang! It powered two years of CB use until I lost interest and well, haven't used it since. So really, I don't know if this still works, but with the components it was made from, likely, it still works like a charm. It's outdated as hell now. With discrete chips doing all the work of these massive components nowadays, anything that's meant for 12V use only works on regular power for as low as $2. I have several that convert my Sirius and radio transmitters to home use for nothing in the size a little bigger than a 5V power adapter. Technology moves on. Junk Blog never sleeps.

-Ric

 

Paper Caper

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100_4199.JPGDoes anybody still read Archie comics? Are they still making NEW Archie comics or are they reprinting the old ones in another "digest". Last time I saw they were still making Archie comics I was at a Borders superstore and it was a mini magazine in a giant stack of magazine debris on a table in their "Seattle's Best" coffee shop. I never understood why they allowed that to happen. It wasn't a library. They expected you to BUY what you are reading and getting stained with your double latte mocha fappisneezeass chimo and getting crumbs with your nutcheese danish, No, most Borders had stacks of books and magazines laying there as if nobody cared. Hmmm. Maybe part of the reason why they don't exist anymore?

So, If you read any Archie digest in the past few years, they would always name the short jokey features with some quick rhyming title. "Hooker Looker" or "Incontinence Matt Cat" or "Antidisestablishmentarianism Jizzm" . It was all fun to see what that wacky Jughead was up too. Yeah, I know, there was Hot Dog. Yes I know he had his own comic book series that I bought when his magic house turned Archie into a dog. Yes, I know I was a sucker for such shenanigans. Meanwhile, what the hell is this?

100_4200.JPGOH! Toilet Paper! It looks like the stuff you get at turnpike rest stops and gas stations and stadiums. Cheap, does what it's intended for, and you can clog a toilet with it with one mighty beefsteak. Nah. Why would they need to run ink at the end of the roll to let you know your roll is almost out? In most public rest rooms, to pardon the pun, you were S*IT OUT OF LUCK if you ran out during a particularly messy Taco Bell visit. You scrounged around for the sports page or better yet, used the sink as a bidet. I never did that. Really.

So here was the paper I had just mentioned in my last blog. It was printer plotter paper for Radio Shack's CGP-115 Printer Plotter. It used the exact same size of paper that Atari released for their computers. It was a little printer that actually DREW each word out with tiny little pens. If you wanted to print a "document", it would take forever... I'd imagine these were used as point of sale printers as that seems like all they were good for. Yes, you could make doodles and other crap, and I'd imagine now, with backwards technology, somebody somewhere has a way to make these print pictures. Wanna look? Alls I found was it's the Atari 1020 and it looks like it prints out a fancy Spirograph. It was more fun with a ballpoint pen and those plastic gear rings that somehow all got lost like Lite Brite pegs. Wow. Dating myself. Moving on.

100_4197.JPGWow! Value priced! It doesn't seem like much but to someone who was famous for "dime's worth of gas up his ass"  when I was working for 3.35 an hour and couldn't take one of my co-workers home in a snow storm because I didn't have the gas money...it was a lot. Yes, I know. You've got to be kidding right? Well, my Monza got about 25 miles to the gallon....but I was rich enough to do doughnuts in the parking lot the next morning on a snow covered lot... The sins of the past. 4.95 for a box of paper? Yes, this was an investment for me.  I had to miss a late night salad or decadence dessert at a participating Dennys or two boxes of Mister Doughnut doughnut holes which could be left in a frozen Cleveland winter's Monza back seat and taste OH SO GOOD with all that FROSTING! I think this was just before I got the CD habit and started wasting my ka$h on the "Boing Boom Tschak"

100_4198.JPG  I was a HIPSTER even at 16 years old man. Hey man, I was like COOL man. Driving around in a "little brown nugget" with no tailpipe and lots of McD's wrappers in the back seat and aforementioned Mister Doughnut hole boxes. I was "one cool dood."  Mr. Fat Hanz is showing some of Mr. Gross Arm Hair to get all you female viewers hot and disgusted.  Since I had bought these, I just set them on my desk because the box was heavy. So, I made it into a "The Writer Is IN" or "The Writer Is Out" or "The Writer Is Away" or "The Writer is giving himself way too much credit for calling himself a writer and he's really a dumbass for putting a sign like this up because nobody but himself will see it. " Yeah, the stuff we did before the internet. In a few days it will be my 20th year on the net. "Mommas don't let your babies grow up using smartphones..." Oh, too late. It's funny that I still have these and the sign is still in tact. Like I'd ever get through all this paper? Like there was a market for a time for worthless accessory printer plotters? Like, really man. *cues TRUCKIN and packs a SHHHH Check it!*

100_4447.jpgAnd in the grand tradition of this junk blog, aiming to talk about one thing but digressing into another, here's the "Writer Biter" or "Blogger Vagina" or "Alternative Taco Bell Paper" I talked about. Yes, one of the many Archie comics spin offs, the short lived "Jughead's Pal Hot Dog". Imagine a nard like me going into "Collectors Warehouse and Poster Pit" at the corner of Ridge and Pearl in PARMA looking for the latest "Married With Children" issue and stumbling across this in the comic book stand.  OMIGOSH! Became part of the lexicon! The weird ray turned Arch and Reggie into pooches that looked like their human counterparts! Wow. They also grew collars! Amazing that ray!  A dog with a Reggie pompadour! Meanwhile DOGS into HUMANS! Mysteriously Hot Dog's friend didn't change with his collar. Does anybody care? Hot Dog has albino hair. See, the "RAY" made it happen so Archie and Reggie would be legal and that the DOGS see, knew how to speak the queens English! OMIGOSH! Add a few more pounds and a few more years and the human Hot Dog bears a sticking resemblance to.... SHHHHHH! *check it* (Thanks Beastie Boys.)  

100_4445.jpg GET SOME!!!!!!!!

......yah. 

 

100_4444.jpgJust like Columbo, "Just One More Thing Sir..." I'm sure if you're interested in seeing this exciting comic book for yourself, you can go to a collectors blah blah blah and blah blah. "Hart Doug. Er.. Doug Hartley" Gee, maybe if I wore a collar I'd have Betty come over and introduce herself to me and think I'm the cute bashful tongue tied type. Not a chance. Ahhh, the simplicity of Riverdale.  If you read comics, no doubt you wanted to draw them so you sent in your drawing to one of these mail order schools. This was in comic books for years. They also had pamphlets they gave away in supermarkets. I never hoped to draw "Cubby." I did however get "Tipsy" many times in my youth. Hey! I wonder if the Pirate was an inspiration for Johnny Depp? It looks like his nasal passage could hold many doubloons. No, I didn't have any hope of drawing back but I was just as stupid as the next Hart Doug so I enrolled in a mail order writing course. They sent me a book called "Writing for Children" which made the point of taking a course MOOT. It had all the instruction I needed.  Plus, my "instructor" didn't send back an assignment for six months and by that time I was writing every day on my first "Hack" radio gig on WBWC. OMIGOSH! Like what time is it man? *Koo Koo Koo Koo Ka Chew*

-Ric

Dats Total Devo

100_4009.JPGThis is a junk blog artifact. Obscure release of a well known band on a dead format tape product. It's Total Devo by Devo on DAT tape. WTF? Yes, it's the only DAT released by Akron's own spud band and it was one of the few hundred albums that got released for a format that seemed great but failed to be a commercial success.

DAT or Digital Audio Tape came out in the early 90's as a tape format you could record digitally too. A real boon to anyone that wanted digital recording quality in a compact version. It was smaller than a Sony 8MM tape which was Sony's small camcorder format. The problem with DAT is that it was an even smaller VHS or 8MM mechanical tape system. Therefore, if you wanted to have a portable DAT, you still needed room for a rotating head, let alone the power it would consume. Therefore, only for the richly rich recordists.  Now the bright peeps over at Phillips came out with a competing format called Digital Compact Cassette. DCC was like a cassette, only it recorded digital data. Even fewer of those were released because they were also expensive, very few portables were released. The biggest flaw with the DCC format was that they were able to play normal cassette tapes. When you put in a Certron tape to play your family from the 1970s, it was enough to dirty the heads and make your DCC not play/record DCC. Therefore consumers saw it as unreliable. Radio Shack was a big proponent of the $600 DCC, but when we had ours under the neon "The Technology Store" sign in our store, the door of our DCC would not open.  I think our closeout demo was marked down to $300 but I left Radio Shack after a few months of working there. 

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DCC was a complete failure, but not as bad as the DIVX format that was the DVD you could own, or not. Both are on the technology short lived pile. DAT lasted a lot longer. Why? Because before there was digital computers with TONS of storage, DATS provided that storage that was unavailable with a hard drive. By 1994 or so, if you wanted to archive a three hour radio show in good quality, radio stations were using DAT. Most professional recording studios would master to DAT to make their CD/Tape masters. We have a DAT master of the album we put on cassette for my band Spudlok. I think DAT lasted until a few years ago when everybody finally switched to a completely digital format. My friend Boomer gave me a Tascam DA-30 machine which he got when a studio THREW IT OUT!  I had some DAT tapes recorded in 1997 when I recorded all my bits off of tapes when I was let go from WIOT. I mastered all of them on computer and since it's become part of my stack of junk. Same with the pro reel to reel TASCAM tape deck Boomer gave me. All stuff I used in the 90's that sits collecting dust in my audio artifact collection.

100_4012.JPGBeing a Devo fan in the late 80's to early 90's was not a really popular thing. Devo reformed with a different drummer and came back on a small label called Enigma. They released a lot of independent bands and had a big budget for the return of Devo after Devo was given the shaft by the brothers Warner. The final album was Shout! on Warner Brothers and well, was thin. It had some popularity on college radio, but other than that, appeared Devo was done and Warner's did very little to promote the album. The original drummer left for a lucrative business as an electrician. Meanwhile Mark started "Mutato Music" with pretty much all of the other DEVO's and built a hell of a future as not a band.

However, there was enough demand, and with a new drummer, DEVO recorded new material and got a contract with a new label to start DEVO on a new second level. Hence "Total Devo". I listened to the album a LOT, and loved "Disco Dancer". However, it was a commercial failure and the band says that, without selling Warner album levels, Enigma became less supportive. That this album was released on DAT at all is a curiosity. I haven't opened it, keeping it sealed if ever it's worth more than $10. I could have bought this on vinyl record, and did a few years later as a cut out. It's funny to think that the vinyl will last 50 years and in another 10, this DAT version likely won't even be able to be played.

I believe SONY was the last to give up DAT as they were professionally used for way too long after digital storage became cheap. Maybe there are even players still being made, just like VCRs, but if they are, they are not long for the world. I like having a bit of my radio history as junk.

ARF! -Ric

Name Tag Time

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100_3448.JPGYep. We all had em, some still do, and my sweep and mop of the lobby goes out to you denizens of the hourly wage and the name tag. I'm nothing special. I was in radio, doing what I wanted for my career, but still wore several name tags. Believe me, since I'm not in my career choice but something where I make a living, I'm only steps away from a name tag gig. Question is, why do I have so many in my collection? Aside from the few I had where my name was actually imprinted in it, most were just cheaply done with one of those old style Dymo labels. Of course, the names have been removed to protect the 3.35 an hour.  Mud and Fudd were the names of choice.

100_3453.JPGWe'll start with a home made one from Jr. High school. We had an "Academic Challenge" style gave in house.  We were put in teams and we could walk around and bad mouth other members of other teams. In the morning, they would have two teams fight it out during the announcements and the winner went on and the losers were out. We were asked grade appropriate questions. History, Geography, Math, I had a smart guy on my team, the rest of us were typical products of our school system.  We were the "R-Team" and I was Muscleman T (Torture) because I couldn't be Mr. T. If you saw the weakling that I was, you'd agree with not calling me Mr. T.  I would have been called "Muscle Milk T" or "Mouseman T" or "Muselix T" or even "MST3K" (Kick starter, bring it back, just look for it on the weeb). We lost after the second round and I didn't answer any questions at all. "What two countries are attached to the United States?" "Um, Cuba and Texas?"

100_3459.JPGHere's a brand you may remember. Or not. It was a pimple on the 70's mall ass. When I first moved to MALL CITY U.S.A. I remember this store being in my mall. They always had a massive projection TV just outside the store playing the video of the day. Big screens started as "Projection" TVs. There was a huge concave white screen and then a huge box with red, green and blue lenses that made barely a picture. Of course, they were better in a dark room. Plus, they were hugely expensive, got dirty really fast and were always needing to be focused. Sure they came out with all in one cabinets by the time I was shlepping screens. My friend and band mate actually worked at the store for a bit in his earlier days. I didn't know it was a Radio Shack company until he told me. The chain folded and a few years later Shack would try again with "Incredible Universe", which also failed. Can you believe that a 2 hour VHS videotape used to cost $10? (This was before EP speed!)

100_3445.JPGHere's one of the electronic stores that I was longest tenured at. This was Northeast. When someone asked us what A.S.A.P. meant, (I think I was asked three times in almost two years) we just made up an answer. Why? We were never told what it meant. Er, check that. I believe it stood for "Appliance Store Assurance Plan". Yep. Northeast's parent company the Appliance Store was too damn cheap to get Northeast Appliance badges made up for us. We just said it was for "As Soon As Possible" appliance delivery. Of course, "All Sh*tty A** Products" was a favorite. "No Highs, No Lows, Must Be Bose" was another favorite. When a salesman got in trouble after he said that to a Bose secret shopper, we all heard about it from our managers. I dunno, I think they sound great. I bought a system...but it was mostly free from the Bose points I earned from selling them pieces of wood.  I wouldn't actually buy them. Now that I've had them for 20 years, maybe I would.  Turn the name tag over to see how we really felt. :)

100_3444.JPGI was always known as a little odd. I always said that if I was at a party wearing a toga, I'd dump a big jug of mustard all over myself for no reason (just like Brother Bluto from Animal House.)  It was a small hell we lived in for the time I worked there, but we were a band of brothers. Our store was so empty, the assistant manager and I worked out a game where we would toss a roll of packing tape up at all our portable stereos and other crap behind the counter and score by the number of things we knocked off.  I still have the chair I sat on all those hours. When they closed our store, they tossed the chairs, and well, my junk.

100_3452.JPGHere's a tag from Bess Buy. I had two tenures working for this company. Likely this was from my first. All of the stores I had worked for had gone under because of this behemoth. So, being the out of work dumbass I was, I went to work for the company that killed the traditional "you make lower" business model that I'd know and hated. I was assigned to the video department as that's what I felt my strongest expertise was. Well, not really, but I did know the ins and outs of a "flying erase head" and "Diamondvision". I could sell on the floor and talk product with my customers and say "this one is better than" without thinking "I'll make x on this one if I sell it as opposed to Y on the one I think I'd like for myself." Actually, that wasn't true. I had been through the wringer and lost on all ends. I never sold a TV based on the fact that it had a $10 spiff.  I sold that 25" Zenith Hotel Style TV for $299  because it was a good deal if you didn't mind not having fancy stuff like on screen junk and inputs. No, Best Buy was worry free selling. I was paid by the hour. I could flip burgers or make another dollar to not have to wear a polyester uniform, paper hat, and smell like dehydrated onions for a day. 

Of course, they just wanted to blow out all the peeps like me that had mad skills at knowing the difference between "Scandium Oxide" tubes and "cable ready" as opposed to "cable compatible".  So a few days after I started working there, they asked me if I'd help with a truck. Then they would ask more and then I'd be handed a dolly when I came in.  No use complaining. Bye Bye Blue Shirt Crew. I had mad skills. You want fries with that? Would you like to get a coffee with that bagel sandwich? That's 10.63 for those three bags of manure. Repeat.

100_3457.JPGWhich leads me to one of the shortest tenures of any of these stores I'd worked for. Technically, this was the competition that put the old style stores out of business, but indeed the were no match for the store in blue. I had been on the "beach" for a bit after Northeast went under. I walked into my Sun store and found several retail "vets" (debris) working gigs at Sun TV. Now, this was a company that sold the cheapest of the cheap and advertised it that way. They were big in the new personal computers trend and pretty much ate the markets lunch for the appetite of new style IBM clone computers Windows 3.1. It was now "easy" to operate a computer and at $2500, it was cheaper than ever. *Cough* So, with a good word from one of the retail "vets" to the manager of the joint, I was in like Flynn but had to start by selling personal electronics. (Demoted!) I could sleep and sell a boombox. Of course I had to sell the computers as well. I steered clear of them. If it didn't have an Atari "Fuji" and a cassette drive to "Cload" "Bruce Lee" for 17 minutes, I didn't know anything about it. Then I discovered that, if I didn't work in appliances,  I wouldn't make more than my minimum anyway. No incentive to learn about computers, but only the most costly paid anything. I was taught about the importance of selling their "extended warranty" and well, that was what did me in. We had cashiers where people could come and get self serve stuff and they had to sell the extended warranty. Pretty sure even the security people had to suggest the warranty.  Another reason why there wasn't much money in personal electronics to be made when the phones could be picked up like a Wal-Mart and walked to the check out.

I actually made a BIG sale in my time there. ONE big sale. A $300 boombox that was nothing like the ones I sold a ton of a few years earlier. No, this was a deluxe, everything but a turntable boom box. So, here's how it went.

1. Sell the damn thing.

2. Carry it to the "sales desk" (sort of like buying a car.)

3. Get the info from the chump (er...customer), and then begin trying to sell them the extended warranty. Refusal #1.

4. Try to tell them all the things the extended warranty would cover and the advantages. Refusal #2.

5. "Fake" that something was wrong with the computer or the printer, grab another sales person, have them say they were an assistant manager and give the selling of the extended warranty another try, (Really, we had to do this! Of course, if that guy was successful, you split the sale.) Refusal #3.

6. Finish typing up the ticket, and then go to the cashier.

7. Wait in line for a checkout! (Yes, they made us do this as well. If it was busy, we had to wait. Everything went through a cashier when it came to payment.)

8. The cashier would ask again if the customer wanted to add the extended warranty!  Refusal #4.

9. Customer cashes out and then you would walk them to the central desk, where bigger items needed to be checked off and I'd have to hand them a copy to be signed off on.

10. Finally the customer had to be checked that they actually paid for it by the security guy at the door.

SERIOUSLY!  It honestly took ONE HOUR to sell a boombox from my introduction to the customer leaving with their purchase. Needless to say the next day I worked,  I had two friends visit and they were going to have lunch, see a movie, then go to the happy hour at a participating Chi-Chi's restaurant. I said I'd join them for lunch..... After the movie, I went back to get what little I had in my locker and left to stuff my face with nachos and salsa. Mmmmm. Happy hour. One week. Done. Hills is hiring!

100_3455.JPGThis one is quick. When I worked for the temp agency in Louisville, I was issued one of these so I could work at State Farm as a phone and file jockey for flood claims. The phones were hopping and overtime was had by all. Then we started to slow down. When I was one of the last temps there, I was told I could take this tag off as they knew us by then. Wow. Before 9/11.  Good times. My boss found a "pocket rocket" in the trunk of his rental car. Good times. Steemie Steul and the Irregulars. Good times. "Put that Photon laser tag gun away or I'm sending you home!" Good times.

100_3454.JPGLike Sun did to Northeast, Builders Square did to Forest City/Handy Andy. Bigger, cleaner, everything piled high to watch them buy. Plus, they were K-Mart! They had a huge buying power so they could get that $69 storm door or that $20 faucet.  I worked the last few weeks stocking shelves of this new hardware palace and then signed the 2x4 beam that they sawed apart when we opened to the world. A few weeks later, I realized I was just a cashier. Sure I wanted to know about Karlin boxes and the differences between wood and machine and drywall screws. However, as the weather became nicer, more and more I was working as a nursery department cashier and stock lackey. After moving pallet after pallet of fertilizer, I realized that, breathing, something we all as humans need to do, was becoming a chore. Coughing and sneezing and being stuffed up seemed the new normal, until I was a half hour later in fresh air. Hmmmmm. Ya think moving all that stinky chemical crap was having some kind of.... So, I was back on the front lines and "Telechecking" declined checks and the writing was on the wall.

100_3466.JPGHere is one I self created. It's how I would eventually feel over many of the retail jobs I held. There were a few more pins in the collection. The McDonalds one in the beginning frame is going to have it's own junk blog post coming up. I had an extra Best Buy tag from my second time working there in addition to a broken Northeast tag. There was also a bonus pin with "Do The Right Thing" style lettering advertising Pioneer car stereo. It was one of the few "promo" pins we had to wear at Northeast. I'll wrap up with this relic from the past. a Junk Blog BONUS.

100_3463.JPGElectronic Fun With Computers And Games. A Wikilook and another click will get you to PDFs of the issues of this rag. I didn't have a lot of money back when, but I bought the issue of this with E.T. on it announcing that E.T. was "ready for X-Mas" and had E.T. playing HIS game (or something like his game) just 1 inch from the screen with a joystick in his hand. It didn't show that he took it back to Kiddie City and asked for his money back because it was such a crappy game. You can read all about how 1983 video game crash was pretty much blamed on this game. (Pac-Man was the opening salvo of the crap to come. However that title sold in huge numbers because it was the only way to have a crescent wrench that opened and closed on square dots while flickering pieces of digital dung tried to touch you and make you shrivel up like the eye on a Woolensak reel to reel tape recorder.) Whew! Bonus points to those who got that one. Reference Obscura (TM).  The only way I got this key chain is either I sent a letter in about a game or it came free with one of the magazines. I think the latter. I only got a few of the issues. The only ran less than two years. It was a good read at the time, with honest reviews of all the crappy carts I'd be buying for two dollars at Fisher's Big Wheel as all the video game companies crashed.  They tried to change their name and be more computer orientated, but "It's OVER Johnny."

-Ric

100_3025.JPGHow fast media storage has moved in even the past 5 years! CD-R Media came out and pretty much replaced all floppy/magnetic media. DVD-R advanced the storage wars, but then USB chips took over and removable hard drives.. This little stack of disks likely holds a total of less than half the 512 Meg USB chip that was my first portable storage. In 20 years, will there be anything to read CD media? These discs aren't worth a spit.

100_3027.JPGAhh yes. It was always so expensive for this media. It wasn't until personal computers like Atari and Commodore sold off their stuff for cheap. I had a cassette recorder that loaded my programs, but wow. Slow and low. Then, you didn't know what program started where. Plus, if you wanted to play a program other than the crappy little basic stuff that I copied from Antic magazine, set it and forget it with tapes. The only pro game I owned on tape was Bruce Lee. It took 22 minutes to load. My computer only had 64K of ram. So, unlike discs which could load and load and load as the game progressed, this was like the cheesiest way to save stuff. It was in memory and that was that.  The same program took about two minutes when I got a disk drive.

100_3029.JPGNow when I was younger, computers for the home were a novelty. We had barely gotten past PONG games and moved along to Atari 2600 or Intellivision or even Colecovision. Apple IIC computers had become the computer of choice to teach us nards the BASIC computer language. I signed up for the program at my library and had hour blocks of time to use the computer. Mom took me to a computer store and I bought a "Generic" brand  (yes, it was printed on the sleeve) floppy disk for $4. That's ONE floppy disk. The double sided disks cost a few dollars more but I learned that with a notch carved into the plastic, you could double your storage. Never had one fail, so FU Big Floppy!  I made great BASIC programs too. Inventive stuff like 10 Print "F**K YOU WITH A SINGLE SIDED FLOPPY" 20 goto 10. Of course, the librarians didn't like that...

100_3028.JPGA little history on the magic of the recordable magnetic 5 1/4" floppy.  They came out with an 8" floppy before it, and  big huge high speed cakes of magnetic tape before those. Just about every 80's and 70's TV show or movie that went to a high tech location or government office had those big systems with big tapes that rotated forward and backwards. Imagine the hell of that. Tape on heads. At least when they came out with floppies, nothing touched the floppy. Of course the 40's and 50's, you had stacks and stacks and STACKS of punch cards and it was totally mechanical to save our billing info. Damn. It was 40 years until we had floppy disk storage and personal computers (mostly gaming systems that had basic.)

100_3030.JPG...and before we entered a new world, I'll show the OTHER computer that used to be in schools and small businesses. The Radio Shack TRS80. These were the first lower cost "all in one" computers that were widely available with a built in B&W monitor and a 5 1/4" floppy.  I bought this disk from Radio Shack in Great Northern mall to record my sophomore computer class. I just copied what I did from my library days into the school computer, and that was that. "Darnnit" was a pick an ending text game. Totally crap writing and totally crap BASIC programming. I think I got a "C" for this.

100_3031.JPGIt wasn't long after the video game crash where the cheap computers were dumped to the world that computers started to get better and "professional" (Macs and IBMs) started getting smaller and cheaper. It was when Apple released the Macintosh that really started the change over to the 3.5" floppy. It was double the size at 1.44 Meg (or didn't need to flip it if you put cheap nicks in you 5 1/4" floppies.) They could store more LODE RUNNER or newer versions of ZORK on the 3.5. Also, you could carry it in your shirt pocket and it was thicker, so you didn't have to worry about it getting messed up in a drunken "miss" of your disk drive. It wasn't until the IBM "clone" computers came out that these discs became the default way to backup your data.

100_3034.JPGFor me, it would be a few years until I enjoyed my first "real" computer. You see I was an aspiring "writer" and I needed more than a typewriter so I could make my many many mistakes and edit many paragraphs of crap. On my Atari, I had a two "printers." One was a cheap "printer/plotter" that made each letter by drawing it with pens. Drawback? 5"  roll paper. It made great graphs though, or printed a mean receipt. Then I got a "print quality" printer which was the worst POS ever. It worked by having letter quality letters on individual "drums" that spun around to print each "letter" one at a time. Trouble was, it was extremely slow and would stop every few minutes to "cool down". Other than small letters:

Dear Mr. Consumer:

Thank you for purchasing this POS. We hope you have many weeks of enjoyment waiting for it to print one f**king page. You can have a ham sandwich or a bowl of soup while waiting, and we promise to print in barely passable typewritten quality so your 240 page manuscript will be outdated by the time it's finished printing. Thanks and P*SS OFF!

                                                                                      Sincerely, The Bastards of Bankruptcy

Well, I had to do it right so I spent $300 and got a Smith Corona word processor. While it was a real pain to edit on and printed pretty slowly, it was a world away from Atari. I used it for a long time. It even came with a cheap program so that files typed in Microsoft Word or Apple's word processor could be converted to use on the SC. I had typed a lot on my friends Macintosh when I lived with him. So, I need to convert all the programs. One morning at the radio station I was working at, I used it to convert the stories I had written. Unfortunately, I "turned off" the computer when I had finished. That knocked the whole station's news department out of news. How would I know? There were no "do not turn off..." signs. It appears they were all linked to each other somehow. Ooops. I bought doughnuts to make nice.

100_3033.JPGEnter the 100MHZ, 16 Meg Ram, 1G Hard Drive, CD Rom, 14.4 modem/sound card, 1.4" floppy Windows 95 machine that I went into hock for $1100 with cheesy 12" Packard Bell monitor. I finally took the plunge to be serious about my writing. Never happened. By this time they were finding ways to back up on multiple floppy discs. You could use programs like WINZIP or a file connector/backup to save 500Meg on these teensy disks.  CD Roms were becoming the norm for commercial software but it would still be a few years yet until the recordable CD Rom would be cheap. They did have ZIP/JAZ/Sparq drives which were super storage of 1G or less, but they were extremely unreliable and went bye after the CDR became the norm.

100_3036.JPGMeanwhile, I had JUNO e-mail. That was the free e-mail so I could send e-mails to my friends that had the computers. Shortly thereafter,  while working at the Toledo college radio station, I got to fool around on this "new to me" "internet" "thingy" for as long as I wanted as it was a college and I was on a T1 line directly to the SUN. What I found blew my mind. "You mean, there are PEOPLE who actually feel closer to wolves and foxes and horses and tigers than HYOOMANS? Look! They have a gathering right in my HOMETOWN!" *GASP* "Would you like to know MORE? YES! How much for this UNLIMITED INTERNET THINGY? It's $20 a MONTH? I can have these ANIMULES in my very own HOME for $20 a MONTH? I have the computer.... "

The picture before has a disk with "Pirch", the first IRC client that let you connect to TWO separate networks at the same time with one client. I started doing IRC (Internet Relay Chat) because when I did it at friend's houses that had BBS'es on Atari and Apple, I thought it was amazing to speak to someone in Florida from my basement in Cleveland. By the time of Windows 95,  several hundreds of people from across America could be using IRC to be spamming or sexxin or playing in the virtual "TFIT" (The Furry Infusion Tank, where you could become the actual character you portrayed on line.) I fell down the rabbit hole and never looked back.

Why I show the disk above was, I was saving all the e-mails I wrote way back when. A year after finding the world of fuzzies, I found Boomer The Dog who was like me. "Why don't I put an ad in the newspaper asking if there are any others like me out there." We were doppelgangers. We both loved radio, him pirate, me commercial. We were both music fans. We both liked writing forever about our experiences. We both liked Blimpee sandwiches. Wait, wasn't this a post about junk? Well, Boomer does provide the web space to host this blog... Okay, let me finish up here ova dey....

100_3038.JPGWhen Negativland came out with their "Dispepsi" album, one of the songs on that disc was "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and one of the lyrics from that song was "Old outdated software being thrown into the trash." Nothing rings more true than when OS'es came of multiple zipped up floppies. It was 2006 when I got my first laptop. A really old hand me down IBM 33MHZ with a 120 meg hard drive and a corrupted operating system. Boomer said he had something that might get it running and provided me with Windows 95 on floppies since it didn't have a CD drive. It took forever to install, but it worked. I installed the base programs that would get me on-line  and got a 25FT. phone extension cord to run outside and sit on the patio and chat with the IRC denizens. That's low-tech for 2006 all right. I got better. Now I count that IBM as junk. Maybe on a future blog? When I can now have every song and picture and letter in my collection stored on a 64G USB chip....

This quaint look back at computer storage history (don't even talk to me about small tape drives and super disks and CLOUD storage and solid state hard drives and USB3 sticks and SD/CF/MS/SM/xD memory...ohy...) is brought to you by the CHEEPDOG. Think about it.

ARF! -Ric

The EASY way to AUX IN

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100_2918.JPGTaaaaDaaaaaaaahhhhhh! It's the ultimate in commercial released cheese.  In my last post, I showed the Shotz brewery's finest contraption, aux input for tape decks. I used it for my dead JVC stereo to play tapes when the tape deck died. It worked. Like a charm? Well, it worked. What about us really poor bastages that didn't even have the know how or the $$$ to install tape in our base Saturn or '88 Pontiac Grand Am with a stick? AM/FM radio should have inputs too! What if I wanted to hear the new Ministry album "Dark Side Of The Spoon" but said '88 Grand Am wasn't worth the hassle of installing a new stereo? Enter: Sound Feeder!

100_2919.JPGThere's a bit better view of how the Sound Feeder works it's magic. With this little half assed pull up antenna, you plugged in your aux sound source and tuned it to one of the "usually" empty channels on your car radio or any radio for that matter. It produced a weak "barely received" signal that you had to move around a lot and keep from going fuzzy on the air. It did what was intended. It was a really cheap way to put your sounds into your radio. For that, I got rid of it as quickly as I could. Slowly. When the Parmavagen(TM) Grand Am died....

100_2922.JPGSingle "AA" battery gave it a little life. I remember getting rechargeable batteries for this as there is no other way to power it. Of course, it's an FM Stereo transmitter. Of course I should have been glad someone brought this out. Of course I shouldn't have asked for a way to power it otherwise. It was the 80's and the 90's. You just didn't get an FM transmitter that didn't broadcast more than 100ft from your 160 in one Radio Shack Electronic Project Kit that you could fit in your ashtray. Why should I bitch that the battery was eaten up with skill and that I had to reset each time I passed a town that had a hot rockin' flame thrower radio signal on 88.7 FM.

100_2921.JPGYes, they would improve on this design. As the 'oughts came around, FM transmitters got really cheap and performed better. Here is the business end of this transmitter. It was odd that it could be tuned through the band until you found a blank spot on your FM dial. Trouble was, they had to do it cheap, so you dialled around with the "tuning" knob until you connected with the maximum sound. Of course, if you so much as LOOKED at the tuning knob, it would go off your channel and trying to fine adjust while you're driving.... At least I don't think they ever made "adjusting your sound feeder while driving" a ticket worthy offence.

Bonus Content


100_3392.jpg

Come on? Is it really like this now? Of course it is. Running circles around it. Does anybody need this now? Of course they do, if they don't have WIFI speakers in every room. So what is it? The same thing as a Sound Feeder. An FM transmitter designed to put your music in play around your house. I use it when at Boomers to listen to my Sirius radio. It's powered by a 5V USB cable. It uses a long wire for the antenna. It switches digitally to the station, so when it's tuned, it's tuned. Don't know if there is a car made that doesn't have an aux in any more, but there are a lot of 80's and 90's cars still running that may need this. Heck, if you have a CD player in your car but want to play your IPOD...or your tape walkman..or your portable 8-track player.... Technology!  Circles. That's all it is. Circles. Will it go 'round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?  Billy Preston. So what were the Beatles like? Did John and Yoko really give peace a chance? Could Ringo get the best sticky icky icky? Was Paul a spitting image of the author of this blog?

ARF! -Ricochet

100_2891.JPGThis was amazing tech for me in the mid 90's. A CB radio that I could carry in my hand that was crystal clear when talking to peeps? I could use it inside buildings without any interference? If someone was 5 car lengths behind, they could still hear me without an external antenna? What kind of mystery machine (You Can Do) magic is this? The FRS radio! (Family Radio Service)

100_2892.JPGMotorola was pretty much the go-too radio when these first came out. Although Radio Shack helped FRS come along. When I went to fan conventions,  these could broadcast in a hotel and you could hear someone 10 floors up with perfect clarity. HOLY S**T! We're standing on the F**King MOON! Plus, unlike CB's in the 70's, you didn't need a federal license to own one of these magic Star Trek communicators. Of course, I think the use of foul language or the picking up of lot lizards for a "cuppa coffee" was frowned upon.

100_2893.JPGAfter seeing how good these could be, I broke out $40 at a K-Mart somewhere on the way home from Memphis, Tenn. (Maybe in Nashville.) It took 3 AA batteries. Damn, why not 4? Please? 6V rather than 4.5V? Can anybody hear me? Oh yeah, now they are all lithium and recharged by plugging it into your computer. Of course, try and replace those...

100_2894.JPGCertainly rides too and from conventions became a better amusement when you could constantly chatter with the other vehicles with the help of these. Tell your friends you are stopping for a squirt, or getting some eats, or doing both. (Wash hands after use.) This Motorola was a pretty damn good radio but trouble started after I dropped it. Then the antenna became sort of loose. Ahh, but when the on/off knob started making noise and then crapped out every now and then, it was time to replace it.

100_2895.JPG3 AA batteries. (grumble) See above. You see, it was about three years when we really got a lot of use out of these at conventions. I'd wake in the morning and turn it on and have fun with the 14 other people that were on the same channel. Being a broadcaster at heart, it was always fun to fart or burp or fake *censored* for the unexpecting listeners. They seemed to be used for "Where you at? We're going for food".  Sometimes the were used to announce on every channel "Star Trek Duckman will be showing for the 47th time in the movie room in 5 minutes..."

100_2896.JPGPrices on these radios were dropping quite a bit so when my Motorola started to spew, I spent $30 for a pair of "Bell South" FRS. 2 radios cheaper than the one radio I had bought a few years previous. Amazing.  This way, if you didn't have your own FRS for our trek, I could loan you one.

100_2898.JPGLook! It's Mr. Fat Hand. Wave hello Mr. Fat Hand! These worked really well but lacked the overall quality of the Motorola. Yeah, I'm sure when they design any hand held device, they suppose that the user will always have a firm grip on the device and NEVER drop it. Geeze, only now have some cell phones started to become more rugged. If you want a laptop that can withstand Armageddon, you'll pay $3000 for the Panasonic Toughbook. If you want a cam that goes underwater, you'll pay $300-500 for it. Cell phone companies have made the glass front of their cell phones so much better, but I can't tell you how many I've seen with their smart phones with a cracked screen. Hell, I even broke the screen on my first Kodak digicam and in 2006, it was still pretty expensive to replace the screen, so I bought the same model.  So, I can't fault Motorola for my first FRS going POO POO after a little BOO BOO.

100_2902.JPGFOUR "AAA" batteries. At least it was a little better, but still, AAA batteries don't have much life... I did like the ease of popping off the belt clip. On the Motorola, you needed to take off the belt clip to change the batteries. It was a pain to take off. Motorola designs did that well. You wore it on your waist and it didn't come off. These Bell units has a little push button latch to take off the battery cover, and you didn't need to take it off to change the batteries. (Likely because you had too change the AAA batteries three times as much.) Plus, the antenna was more sturdy and there was no rotary switch to turn these on/off and adjust the volume. Push button bay-bee.

100_2901.JPGJust three or four years later after FRS made a huge splash in the convention world, everybody got cell phones. That was that. It seemed overnight, nobody was using these anymore. Of course, I'm a cheapdog. I got a cell phone, but it's prepaid and plays Tetris. Still have it. Still use it. No smart phone nonsense for me. One of these FRS radios got dropped and started acting "funny" so I now have 1 1/2 FRS radios that I never use, but I did use them once in the last five years. Boomer's car blew an alternator, so we got him a new battery and we limped his car home from Cleveland to Pitt. Other than that? Junk.  A brief piece of history that faded. Sure they have radios now with more channels and some that can get five miles... Junk. Don't leave a message on my cell, I forgot the password and they wouldn't reset it.

Arf! -Ricochet

Radio Shack Executive Stress Thingy

DSCF8653.JPG6 sounds, no waiting. It's got a Frank Zapper. It's the title of a Bob Wier solo song. It's got a rap verse from Mista Tung Twista. It's got a video game title and a laser tag noise. Finally, it's also a blast. As noise makers go, it's the cheesiest. Ahhh, but I remember how every executive in every fast food restaurant, retail hell hole or phone soliciting office that I ever interviewed in, had a lack of this device or the title of executive.

DSCF8654.JPGIt's a wonder that this survived. I'm sure 90% of these fine devices ended with corroded batteries in landfills near you. Sorta echos Radio Shack's current reality eh? Eh? EHHHHH?

DSCF8655.JPGLook at those FAT fingers pushing the fun button to make the genuine RED LED light while farting out a bit of fart fart fart, only digital, classy, Frank Zapper. I must have got it for a Christmas gift because, even though I like this sort of crap, I'd never buy this sort of crap. Maybe it came free as a giveaway with a coupon from the newspaper. You know, like batteries and flash lights?

DSCF8656.JPGActually, this got use when I got bands. I used this to make a song as you could push the buttons in a certain way to create a boop-boop-beep-beep rhythm. When my friend Bill and I formed the band "Spudlok", this was placed in the studio bag of percussion like cowbells and triangles and other analog stuff.  Then it made it's way into my junk collection where it happily belongs. I love the fake "wooden" sides.

Oh yeah, I guess I'm going to violate the prime directive again. I could have done a demo video or demo sounds or something interactive and cool, but I didn't. However, I had to show what this baby could do, so rather than searching the interwebs for it, I'll include this minimal YEWTOOB link. We do it all for you, ROD.  Bombs away!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RZrtF6OF88

ARF -Ric

One Armed Bandunce

When I was a little shaver, I don't know what got me into pencils. I was an all pen dog. Ha! Misdirect! One Christmas I got this little deal. More parental guidance to my future bad habits. Ha! Misdirect! I'll explain...

DSCF8668.JPGIt's a pot metal, one armed bandit. Set to look like an old classic machine from the early days of one of the great vices of the world. I don't remember what got me started on wanting an actual slot machine gambling device, but I made my parents know my intention. I wanted to be a degenerate. I wanted a starter kit until I earned 2.90 an hour.

DSCF8669.JPGMaybe it was from the Mash show. They had one in the O club. Maybe it was Vega$. All that Ca$h I would get. Of course, I'd have preferred if it would pay out in Spree candy or golden caramel cats eyes, but I got nothing and liked it.

DSCF8670.JPG I did get form and function in a small package. It was a pencil sharpener one armed bandit. I could use it for all the pencils I didn't use to make drawings and write. I did have a set of color pencils, but it had it's own sharpener. Lillian Vernon sold thousands of pencil sets with a neat plastic case and a sharpener. For an extra fee, I got my initials on the top. Good stuff.

DSCF8674.JPGThe cool thing was, it sort of worked like a real bandit. You pulled the arm and a wheel inside spun and you got something. It was cheap. The machine didn't even total what you spun for correctly. I actually got a "6" according to the little scale on top. They only had two pictures for the score. I used it all x-mas while I was playing with my Micronauts city set.

I did get a battery powered draw poker machine from Radio Shack a few years later. I had a bit bigger one armed bandit bank that did have independent wheels, but it was a bank. It wouldn't pay out unless you unlocked it. Maybe it was subliminal messages. Gamble all you want but you'll get nothing back. Gambles in life are like Oreos. Yummy cookies but Jerry Lewis.

Truth be told, I rarely gamble. I make too little to throw away my cake to a giant "bandit". In fact, it was only two years ago that I actually went to my first casino and spun the fake arm and saw fake twirling of video wheels and proceeded to walk away with $15 less than I came in with. It was my fill. I'll go play PACHINKO!

BONUS JUNK GAMBLING MOTIF

Plane Cards.JPGThen there is cards. I've played a lot more poker in my YEWT. I had a lot of sets of cards. However, most of my cards came from: UNITED AIRLINES! Wow.

Jokers Wild.JPGAirlines used to give a LOT of freebies and well, when I was a kid, I got what a could. They gave free playing cards so you could play cards while flying to your destination. They always had food and nuts and luggage flied free. I must have had 6-8 sets of United playing cards as well as the special activity card sets for kids. (Which may appear later on this blog as I think I still have a set.)  By the time I took my last plane trip until modern airline security ball grabbing flights, they were starting to cheapen stuff, but I still wanted my "free" stuff. The above deck came from a US Airways trip to spring break 1986 with...wait for it...my MOM *gasp*. She sat out on the beach while I drove around in our rented Chrysler Spirit and visited malls. I was 17 and I went to spring break with my MOM? Yeah. How did this post become about me taking time from my high paying phone solicitation job to spend time having FUN with my MOM at spring break? I should have been trolling for bitches BUD BUNDY style and working on breaking the nasty with a drunken beach nymph.  Instead? Early bird dinner at Howard Johnson's. Then back to the lodge to hear a radio station that played 16 hits over and over and over. COME ON SHAKE YOUR BODY BABY DO THE CONGA!   ..over and over and over and over until leaving FL. 4 months later in the rust belt? COME ON SHAKE YOUR BODY BABY DO THE CONGA! ..over and over and over. WGCL bay-bee.

Man, some things just were better back when. Made In U.S.A. Still sealed. Not coated.

ARF! -Ric