Radio Shack, I Miss You

Radio Shack batteries bought 02-22-2015 in WPB

I had to shoot a video the other day. My routine is to charge up all the camera batteries, clean off the memory cards, swap out the digital recorder batteries, and to make sure the remote mikes work.

When I was doing the mike check, I found that one of the button batteries was dead, so I reached into my battery stash, confident that I had at least three spares. My confidence was a bit shaken when I saw the once-familiar Radio Shack emblem.

How old ARE those?

I thought back a bit and remembered that I had stocked up on odds and ends when the West Palm Beach Radio Shack close to the house was going out of business in February of 2015.

That made the cells a bit long in the tooth, particularly since all of them looked like some innards gunk had oozed out over the years.

Nowhere like it left

Radio Shack lost its way over the years. It wasn’t sure if it was a source of cheap electronic components, a toy store or a cellphone retailer. In the end, it became none of those.

Still, I can’t think of anyplace where I can pop in for some oddball piece or part. I like places like the Best Buy in Cape for consumer goods, but you can’t get components there.

More Rat Shacks than Mickey D’s?

I read somewhere in the ’70s that there were more Radio Shack stores in the USA than McDonald’s. Even though almost all of them carried the same thing, I found myself browsing in stores wherever I traveled. It might be for tips on what radio frequencies to monitor or for wiring and connectors to make my gizmos work.

If nothing else, there was always one salesdroid who possessed a bit of the geek to nerd out with.

P.S. I ended up having to order replacement batteries from Amazon.

Missouri Needed Rainbow’s Promise

Double rainbow 01-06-2016When I went to pick up my van from being checked out at South End Service here in West Palm Beach, I saw the strongest double rainbow I think I’ve ever seen. It made a perfect arc that lasted several minutes.

I flashed back to my old days at Trinity Lutheran School where we learned about Noah, the Great Flood.and the rainbow God sent as a promise that he wouldn’t destroy the world by flood again. I’m pretty sure some of you folks back home would like to have borrowed my rainbow for assurance over the past few weeks. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

The Genesis version

Double rainbow 01-06-2016From Genesis 9:

11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

My non-biblical thought

The second thought I had was, “If someone in West Palm Beach wins the Powerball, I’m going to check his address to see if he lived at either end of that rainbow.


A Herd of Ibis

Ibis 02-16-2015One of the first things I did when I woke up this morning was to check the weather in Cape to see how much snow had fallen. Mother said she was up most of the night. “I’d go to sleep for a couple of hours, then wake up and sit at the window watching the big flakes swirl down.”

I spent some time listening over the Internet to the Cape cops and the Missouri Highway Patrol. Sounded like a lot of folks didn’t heed the advice to stay off the road. It must have been a good day to own a wrecker company (and a bad day to be a wrecker truck driver).

“Look in the front yard. NOW!”

Ibis 02-16-2015While my mind was focused on cold and snow, Wife Lila headed out the door to walk on the beach. A few minutes after I heard the door slam, I got a text message: “Look in the front yard. NOW!”

That’s usually not a good message. Still, I hurried to look out the window.

Holy Cow! The front yard is covered in white. Drifting white. Drifting white with feet and beaks.

It’s an ibis invasion

Ibis 02-16-2015It was an invasion of American White Ibis. They are common in South Florida, but we don’t usually get them in our yard. They prefer wetlands where they can feed on small fish, crayfish and aquatic insects.

I kept looking to see what they were eating out of our yard, but I couldn’t tell. Several sites I checked said they are “tactile, not visual feeders,” which means they swish their bill around until it hits something worth consuming. They moved across the yard in a hurry, so we must not have been a good cafe.

They sound like spring breakers

A Wikipedia entry reported that “a field study late in the Florida nesting season revealed that on an average day, adult American white ibis spent 10.25 hours looking for food, 0.75 hours flying, 13 hours resting, roosting, and attending to their nests. Much of the time roosting is spent preening, biting and working their feathers with their long bills, as well as rubbing the oil glands on the sides of their heads on back plumage. American white ibis generally only preen themselves, not engaging in allopreening unless part of courtship behavior. Bathing often takes place before preening; ibis squat in water 2–7.9 in) deep and flick water over themselves with each wing in succession. Hundreds of birds may bathe together around the time of courtship.

Dark ones are youngsters

Ibis 02-16-2015You might have noticed some dark and some mottled birds in the group.

The story above mentioned “The gray to sandy gray brown juvenile plumage appears between weeks two and six, and face and bill become pink a few weeks later, while the legs remain gray. The irises have turned slate-gray by this stage. Once fledged, the juvenile American white ibis has largely brown plumage and only the rump, underwing and underparts are white. The legs become light orange. As it matures, white feathers begin appearing on the back and it undergoes a gradual molt to obtain the white adult plumage. This is mostly complete by the end of the second year, although some brown feathers persist on the head and neck until the end of the third year. Juvenile birds take around two years to reach adult size and weight.

Well, at least I didn’t have to shovel the white stuff drifting in MY front yard.

SpaceX Launch Disappointment

Scrubbed SpaceX rocket launch 02-18-2015Wife Lila was in the kitchen constructing one of her incomparable chicken pot pies with the news on to keep her company. Suddenly, she said, “There’s going to be a rocket launch in two minutes.”

We made our usual mad dash out to the fence where we used to look over “Helen’s House” to see the shuttles go up about 11 seconds after liftoff off at Cape Canaveral.

There were some clouds scudding by, but we were pretty sure we’d see the bright trail of flame any second.

You can click on the photos to make them larger, but I wouldn’t bother. There’s not anything to see.

Minutes go by

Scrubbed SpaceX rocket launch 02-18-2015When the two minutes went by with no joy, then three, then five, we decided that either the launch had been scrubbed or we had missed it.

A bird on a wire and a jet departing Palm Beach International Airport was it for the evening.

When we got back inside, I saw a bulletin from Al Stern, a radio buff in Satellite Beach: “Tonight’s SpaceX Dragon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral AFS has been scrubbed due to a Range Tracking Station problem.”

Looks like it’ll be Monday

An NBC news site elaborated: Radar tracking is a critical part of operations for a space launch, because range safety officers need to be able to destroy the rocket in case it goes off course during ascent. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the launch team was also dealing with a problem that affected a transmitter on the rocket’s first stage.

If they get the problem fixed, I guess we’ll be back at the fence at 6:07 p.m. ET Monday. There is a 40 percent chance of acceptable weather.