New Member, Old Hand

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New Member, Old Hand

Post by drmcclainphd on Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:31 pm

I'm 59 and have 51 years in the field. Seriously. I grew up in my dad's TV shop (VuMor TV, Munster, IN). At age 8 I was "hired" (almost certainly to give my overworked mother a break from me) to test tubes. I got a quarter an hour. I went through the large console TV sized box of used tubes pulled from trade-ins within 2 weeks. I guess he hadn't expected that. He should have. The year before, he brought me a used encyclopedia. Two months later I asked for another. He asked why, and I said "I finished this one." So anyway, I was taught to solder. He'd troubleshoot, and I'd change parts. And I learned to use a meter. And I learned to recognize symptoms and fixes for certain models prone to certain models. While my friends were fixing their bicycles, I was fixing TVs. They collected Playboys, I collected Sams Photofacts. I grew callouses on my hands from the thousands of minor burns from pulling hot tubes. I got a job on my own, doing the same at a different shop, when I was 14.

At about that time I got into music. I got an electric guitar, and built an amp out of a TEAC reel to reel with the transport removed. My speaker was a corner sitting Karlson cabinet with an EV 12" full range. This was pretty much all junk at the time. Very cool junk, but still junk. It kept me going until I could afford brand name stuff, at age 18.

After some years of raising family, military service, and very little electronics, I went back to school. By the time I got my doctorate in neuroscience (13 years of full time college) I used what I knew from electronics to develop some new methods of analyzing data from EEGs and fMRIs. If you've seen the movie "Thank You For Smoking" you might remember the protagonist being grilled by a committee of congresscritters, with one asking him what his tobacco research foundation had learned that was positive. He said "Well, we've found that smoking can offset Parkinson's disease." That's true. That was my dissertation.

After working at NIH and then the psychiatry dept. at Yale Medical School, I found out that my lifetime of smoking hadn't prevented Parkinson's in me, so I "retired" in 2008. But I'd learned of a drug invented by Albert Hofmann that didn't just prevent memory loss but actually improved it, and did some other wonderful stuff. The night before he died he gave a talk at a conference and credited this drug for his longetivity. He was 108. I tried it, and my symptoms improved. They haven't come back. If he hadn't already been made infamous for discovering LSD, this drug (Hydergine) and the research that led up to it might have earned him a Nobel.

A few years ago I moved to Texas to marry my last wife (last as in final, not previous), my second-childhood sweetheart. Within a month she said "I've been in Texas 60 of my 62 years. I want to do something different." I said "Let's move to south west Virginia and go play music on The Crooked Road." She said "I have no idea what you just said, but it sounds good to me." Within another month she'd sold her house for cash and we'd moved to Abingdon, VA, near Bristol VA and TN. Neither of us has ever regretted it.

Since then I've done nothing but music and all things surrounding it. I recorded an album with a 16 stereo track recorder, and played everything all by myself. That's pretty much what Mike Oldfield did for Tubular Bells, and I wanted to. Now I have, 40 years later. I've built a line of electric 12 string guitars modeled after the two most famous Fender styles. I've built up amps and PAs, putting components together and building the speaker cabinets myself. I do a fair amount of lutherie (stringed instrument repair). And I've done almost two more albums worth of recording. I play... well, heck, as far as I'm concerned, it's ALL playing. Cutting MDF for speaker cabs, soldering a new cord onto a Philco 48-482 I just picked up, trying different effects on the tracks I've recorded, it's all parts of the fun. Yeah, I'm playing. I have no intention of stopping.

My wife has recently gone back to school to finish her RN. She'll graduate just in time to retire, age 65. But she won't -- she'll work. She operates at a level of spontaneity and drive that I've never seen in anyone else but myself. I've carried around a line from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle like a motto: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." So when she instantly agreed to my suggestion on where to move to, I knew I'd found my other half.

Got to go, it's starting to rain, and that Philco 48-482 and my soldering station are out on a table under the trees.

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Bill Cahill on Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:18 pm

Well, a very warm welcome to TRF. Glad to have you here. What type of collection do you have? May we see it????

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Tony V on Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:48 pm

Welcome to TRF! Nice to have you here!
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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Guest on Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:15 pm

Welcome to TRF, you're going to like it here! Very Happy

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by 75X11 on Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:27 pm

Welcome!
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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:12 pm

Welcome to TRF!

WC

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by willy3486 on Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:06 am

Welcome to the club. If your into a road trip keep an eye on [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

The Nashville meet is not to far away. I think it is in the first part of October.

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by JasonAMFM on Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:20 am

Welcome! I'm a musician as well, but very new to repair. As far as I got before this forum's aide was opening a guitar and a transistor radio, staring at the components in confusion, and then closing them back up. You'll like it here. Good people and a wealth of information.
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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Guest on Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:36 pm

Dr. McClain, I'm also in Virginia and know the Abingdon area. First Bank and Trust is headquartered there and happens to be one of my biggest customers. Maybe we can meet up some time, I'm all over this state weekly!

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Ragwire on Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:42 pm

Welcome!
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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Dale H. Cook on Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:35 pm

Welcome - I am a few years older than you and have lived in Roanoke for 27 years.
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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by drmcclainphd on Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:03 pm

Thanks for the warm welcome, folks.

Bill, other than this Philco I just picked up, I don't have a collection of items relevant to the forum. I do have my music stuff...

A couple of my 12 strings I built,
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and a Telecaster obvious meant for country music
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And some speaker projects,
a Sweet 16 array PA
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and a couple PA towers
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I did a music video for my grand daughter with a song I wrote her. I got to play it with Pink Floydemingos. That's their lead player, David Gullmour, and Roger McWren from the Byrds on toy piano. Strange audience, that gig. Nobody applauded. They just smiled and smiled...
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Mezlaw, would love to meet up. May I suggest Heartwood, at exit 14, first, third or fifth Thursdays? The Crooked Road open jam starts at 6:30 those days.

Dale, I lived in Ironto while going to school, and went to the Salem VA hospital often, so I know Star City. I have some recordings of a former Roanoke citizen, Adrian Cronauer, doing his now famous opening call sign on American Forces Vietnam Network.

Thanks again, all, I'll be around.

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Re: New Member, Old Hand

Post by Dale H. Cook on Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:44 pm

drmcclainphd wrote:I have some recordings of a former Roanoke citizen, Adrian Cronauer, doing his now famous opening call sign on American Forces Vietnam Network.
A number of us old radio folks get together for a quarterly luncheon, and at the last one I was sitting across the table from Adrian, who worked at WROV back in the day. He moved back to the area (I think he is living in southern Botetourt County) after he retired. He is a fascinating gentleman whom I always enjoy talking to at those luncheons. I am the only engineer in the group.
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