Monday, April 4, 2011

A Box of Boom

Today is 4/4/11.  Pretty neat; huh?  Then again....Sorry.  It seems to me as if an inordinate amount of ink has been spilled this year by folks discussing a lot of allegedly significant events all bearing some type of relationship to the fact that this year is 2011.  I wanted to not miss the train completely before it pulled out of the station.  Thus, I contributed my $0.02 (only if one rounds up as an adjustment for inflation) to the dialogue.  I live to be a member of the community at large.  'Tis a dream of mine.

I have a lot of stuff in my office.  A good deal of it is technology:  a computer, a telephone and a Dictaphone to name just a few, the purpose (both stated and unstated) of which is to assist me in the doing of the voodoo that I do to earn my daily bread.  I do not pretend to be Captain Techno by any stretch of anyone's imagination but I am now among the legion of human cattle walking around with a "Smart Phone" affixed to my hip, which permits me to have constant contact with my office regardless of where I am and to continue to be an active traveler on the information superhighway even when I am asleep.  I am not sure whether my inherent cool elevates that of my phone or vice versa.  Either way we are pretty cool......in a predictably dorky kind of way. 

I was reminded yet again on Thursday afternoon that we have entered a time of year in which my most prized piece of technology is decidedly low-tech.  For too many years to remember I have had in my office a radio/cassette player that at one point in time - a million years ago or so - belonged to Rob.  Picture if you will a training wheels-dependent version of a boom box and you have an accurate picture of this monster.  Being inherently parsimonious (because "cheap" is such an ugly-sounding word), I am willing to wager that when I grabbed it off of the shelf at Radio Shack more than a decade and a half ago, its bust-out retail price was less than $20.00. 

As time has passed, it has not always been kind to my little machine.  I number of years ago - I do not recall precisely when it happened - the built-in cassette player ceased to work.  It just quit one day.  Being a bit slow on the uptake, I failed to notice that it was not functioning properly until it had eaten either the third or fourth tape that I had fed it.  At that point even I recognized that something was just a bit off.  Some time later the antenna snapped off.  While I have no recollection of either when or how that occurred, it has impressed me since that there was no trace or remnant of the antenna left behind.  It somehow was separated completely from the machine.  When one looks at the machine now it is as if the antenna never was there at all.

Through it all my little boom box has soldiered on.  And on Opening Day 2011 - as it has done on countless Opening Days before - it answered the call.  It took a while to get it to stop crackling and emitting static after I turned it on so that one attempting to listen to the Yankees radio crew could actually hear them.  It is never an exact science.  It is instead equal parts finesse and luck - calibrating the relationship between the tuning dial and the volume dial until one arrives at the optimal meeting point of the two.  Once it is reached, then the need to protect it and preserve it for the remainder of the game is paramount.  Adjusting the volume is not recommended.  Under no circumstances is the radio to be moved......for the remainder of the season.

I do not doubt that there are easier and more high-tech ways to enjoy an afternoon ball game than the manner in which I do.  Yet I call my little boomer into action not just on Opening Day but on every occasion during the season when the Yankees' work schedule and mine overlap.  There is something about the sounds of baseball emanating from an AM radio that just stirs the nine-year-old who occupies such a prominent place in my brain and my psyche.  There is almost something soothing about the sounds of the ballpark mingling with the noise of my day-to-day that invariably brings a smile to my face.

Static?  What static?  It is an afternoon spent with a baseball game on the radio.  There's no static at all......

.....not even on the Amplitude Modulation side of the dial.

-AK

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