Strike a light!

We saw Dr P on Monday. The blood test I had had last week showed that my PSA has risen from the preceding test four weeks ago, but only slightly — 1.44 from 1.29. Dr P was at pains to say that this didn’t worry him. If the PSA keeps increasing at this rate, it would take a fair while to reach 2.0. I mentioned that I wanted to take off a few Covid kilos. He thought the weight gain was a good thing; it was much better for a cancer patient to be putting on weight than losing it, and this showed the disease was well under control. (I said he deserved to be doctor of the year for finding a positive side to being a bit fat around the middle!) He thought I also looked very well, as, fortunately, I feel. I’m sure that my continuing with exercise classes is keeping me in as good a space as can be.

About a week before this appointment I bought a new kitchen radio, from an outfit called Australian Digital Radio in Geelong. They make very high class reproductions of 1940s era mantel radios, but with extra features for the digital age. The model I bought, called the Retro, has DAB+ as well as FM, Bluetooth, and a USB socket from which one can either play music or change one’s phone. A 20 watt RMS amplifier and a twin cone speaker means that it sounds excellent — as good as the Bose Wave Radio, at a fraction of the price. For anyone who likes the look of 1940s bakelite radios, as I do, I think it looks really dope, as the young folk say nowadays.

The Retro arrived the day of my appointment with Phillip. It was very professionally and securely packaged; Ron, the manufacturer, had previously SMS’d me a copy of the package label, and included his mobile number with the enclosed documentation. The latter was fortunate because the user interface isn’t the greatest feature of the Retro: even after reading the manual, I had to contact Ron to work out how to tune in the stations. He was very helpful, however, and I am now really enjoying listening to ABC Classic and 3MBS-FM. The tuner has very good sensitivity — 3MBS is usually quite difficult to receive clearly on the FM band, but the Retro pulls it in extremely well. The sound is quite rich and a bit rolled-off on top, obviously modelled on the mantel valve radios predecessors, but without the hum and hiss. There are five sound modes (Normal, Classic, Pop, Jazz, and Rock) which can be selected. The dial displays an analog clock when in standby mode (albeit a smallish one), so you get a kitchen clock as well.

In my conversation with Ron I said that, although I really liked the Retro, I found it looked possibly a bit big for the shelf on which I had put it in the kitchen. Australian Digital Radio also makes a slightly smaller model called the Lil Lottie, and I asked whether I could return the Retro and exchange it for one of the former. Ron offered to send me a Lil Lottie to try out, at no charge, to allow me to see which worked better in our kitchen! I think this was outstanding customer service, and only gives me further reasons to recommend either model to anyone who would like a great sounding and looking kitchen and/or bedside radio, designed and manufactured in Australia! (For those thinking of ordering a Lil Lottie, Ron supplied the dimensions — 23 cm W, 15 H, 15 D. These are a few centimetres smaller all round than the Retro. I have no connection with Australian Digital Radio other than as a customer.)

As part of the packing around the radio, Ron included an issue of Australian Radio and Hobbies from December, 1947. As well as numerous articles and advertisements for radios, valves and so on (the transistor was yet to be developed), the issue contained an article, ‘Fire making through the years’, the title of which is fairly self explanatory. (The link points to my scan of the article in my Google Drive. The copyright holder, Silicon Chip Magazine, has kindly agreed to my publishing this link.) The author of the article, Calvin Walters, was described in an article in Wireless Weekly, May 31, 1935, as a “well-known experimenter” — the latter link points to a Trove page. If you have ever wondered how the safety match came into being, or what people did beforehand, look no further! The illustration, dated references to “primitive people” and “the natives”, and a few grammatical howlers, remind us that Australia was a different place 85 years ago. These solecisms aside, this is actually a pretty interesting piece, and transports us back to a time when radio hobbyists also took an interest in most scientific topics. (A burning question, if I may so put it — was it supposed to be unlucky to light three cigarettes at once?)

To finish off the GT repair saga, I finally received the monies from the transport company’s insurance company about a week ago. So the car has an entirely new bonnet and repaired front guard at no cost to me, apart from the week when I couldn’t drive it. It’s heartening to report that there are some honest operators, and ingenious and reasonable folk in general, out there.

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