My friend Jon is a wiz with pretty much anything mechanical, and he has a Rain Man-like gift for motors. Whether it's a pool pump, a lawn tractor, or a car, Jon is the man to call. What amazes me is that he can often diagnose my motor problems over the phone with only the most basic description.
The simplest things in life often yield the most pleasure. A cold beer after a hard day working in the yard. A parking space with time left on the meter. A funny fortune cookie at the end of a Chinese dinner.
With all the press that monster flat-panel TVs and high-def discs have been getting, it's possible to forget that video is only half the experience. (After all, this magazine isn't called Sight & Vision.) Without great sound to back it up, your home theater is just a bunch of fancy images.
The first thing my wife told me when I returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in January was that our eight-year-old garage-door opener was broken. When it still produced a banshee-like screech after a liberal dose of WD-40 - the universal cure-all for ailing mechanical devices - I decided we needed a new opener.
You can hardly buy anything without being presented with the chance to spend a little more to get a little extra. And as upgrades go, the A/V industry might be the reigning heavyweight champ. You can upgrade everything in our exciting, neurotic world - speakers, amps, controllers, cables, even the lens on your video projector.
This past winter, my wife and I spent three wonderful weeks touring Italy. Although traveling abroad always provides interesting experiences, we stumbled across some peculiarities that really showed we weren't in America anymore. For one, the cost of a cappuccino is directly related to where you drink it. Stand at the counter, and it might be $1.50.
Having a new house built might be one of the most stressful endeavors you can go through. Practically every time you turn around, someone is there needing an answer to something - or waiting to deliver bad news. In fact, many people who go through the construction process swear to never do it again.
Every time a new technology emerges, it seems like pundits can't wait to declare everything that preceded it obsolete. A classic example is the U.S. Postal Service. How many times have you heard that faxes and e-mails are going to replace the good old mailman? But six days a week - through rain, sleet, snow, and dead of night - the mailman still completes his appointed rounds.
Considering the rapid way A/V technology evolves, I'll bet Charles Darwin would have been a Sound & Vision subscriber. And survival of the fittest and natural selection are definitely alive and well in my equipment rack. In fact, all you have to do is look at it to see the history of recorded video at a glance.
Having lived on both coasts, I've personally sampled from the buffet of natural disasters each has to offer. I lived through the 1989 World Series earthquake, standing in a doorway trying to decide whether to be more worried about myself or my large tube TV, which was doing the Hippy Hippy Shake on its stand.