November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Wi-Fi Audio Frustrations
I’ve got a large music collection, much of which is stored on my media server in MP3 format. It comes from my collection of about 1,300 CDs, and a long-term membership with eMusic.com, which has served admirably as a great platform for identifying new and sometimes obscure jazz artists from around the world.
While I do have a treasured if elderly Apple iPod Classic (160 GB), that iPod is a mechanical device, with a hard disk drive that is sure to expire someday. I figured that I had this great media server with all these great tunes, how hard could it be to pump that music over Wi-Fi into my bedroom? Turns out that it was harder than I thought.
Bluetooth was no good because the source (my living room media server) was too far away from the master bedroom. There is a limit of about 15 meters from source to receiver for Bluetooth. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 6: Life as a Combat Communicator in the First Combat Communications Squadron
My time in the 1st Combat Communications Group was a life-changing experience for me. It was, in a word, people, who made all the difference. While I was but a cog in the wheel when assigned to other units, life in the 1st Comm was like being a member of a family. If some of the words of this section are interpreted as criticism, I’ll admit to that, but only in the context of wanting the people to be better and to behave with just a little more honor. Sometimes, boys will be boys just doesn’t cut it.
I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at the end of April, 1979. I was met at the airport and driven to Lindsey Air Station, a small facility located in the heart of Wiesbaden, Germany. At one time, right after WWII, Lindsey housed the headquarters for the US Air Forces in Europe, I think mainly because Wiesbaden emerged from the war virtually unscathed. This was a lovely facility, with buildings dating to the 1870s, with many of the older buildings evoking the castles found not far away along the Rhine River. My own dorm was a much uglier four story concrete box, but for the next three years, it was home. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 5: Engineering and Installation in San Antonio and Elsewhere
I arrived just before New Year’s Day and was assigned a room in the beautiful combination dormitory, dining hall, personnel office, and post office, built in 1939, and named, at the time, The Palace. This naming was at least in part to counter the impressive tower at Randolph AFB, across San Antonio from Kelly, and named the Taj Mahal. The Palace had not gone through much in the way of renovations. The windows, I believe, were original to the place with metal frames with countless coats of paint making sealing from the elements (and flying insects) almost a joke. I can remember waking in the middle of the night to wasps crawling on my arm. Fortunately (for me), it was wintertime and the wasps were in near hibernation and were very sluggish. I found a small nest of them in my overhead light fixture which I dispatched with an extremely liberal application of insecticide. I also taped over all the gaps in my window which lasted until the dorm underwent an extensive renovation while I was out on the road; the renovation including modern, well-sealed, energy-efficient windows. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 4: Homestead AFB, or Gee But It’s Great to Be Back Home
After spending Christmas with my family, I made the drive down to Homestead Air Force Base, located in a small town south of Miami, and checked into my unit. I was assigned a room, with roommate, in the dorm, and began to settle in.
My job at Homestead AFB was to maintain equipment that supported the air traffic control mission, which included radios, tape recorders, communications consoles, weather facsimile machines, and even the amplified podium used by the base commander, wing commander, and other dignitaries for special events. First and foremost, though, was the mission to support the regular comings and goings of the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, who had a vacation home on Miami’s Key Biscayne.
When Nixon came to town, we had to man the various sites and be at the ready to repair or substitute other equipment so that his arrivals and departures were flawless. It’s also why I got a Secret security clearance. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 3: Tech School
I frankly don’t remember a lot about Tech School at Keesler AFB. It all happened so fast. I got there in early June, 1973, just in time for the oppressive Gulf Coast summer to come along. I was on what was known as “B” shift, with classes running from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM. We marched across the flightline in formation, including passing in review in front of a reviewing stand, where the base commander or one of his minions watched us doing our best “eyes left” as we passed in front of the stand. One of the key things about marching in formation was that it was supposed to be fairly loud. The student leaders (the ones who had various color braided ropes attached to one sleeve) while calling out cadence, also called out “more heel beat.” That command meant we were to jam out heels into the soft asphalt that, with the hot Mississippi sun, was getting softer all the time. Seems like much of the time, the heel beat was more of a heel squish. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 2: Induction, Basic Training, and Some Elective Surgery
I finally got the go-ahead to head to the Induction Center in Miami in late January 1973. The first night, I was put up in one of the many slowly-decaying downtown Miami hotels, all gone now, and the next morning, I did the Induction Physical (turn your head and cough—any of you who served know what that meant!), was herded onto a bus that dumped us off at Miami International Airport, and then herded onto a commercial airline flight to San Antonio, where I would be undergoing Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base. We were “greeted” by our Military Training Instructor (TI), Technical Sergeant Tyree, who got us into the dorm (similar to the one pictured) and got us into our bunks. At 5AM, it was a true rude awakening, as a trashcan was hurled down the center of the bay, crashing and clanging the whole way. We were definitely up, and were definitely
instructed commanded to get our swinging, er, appendages, er, out of bed and to get dressed so we could march to the dining hall for our first Air Force meal. I had no idea Texas was so cold. It was probably 40 degrees that morning, and I only had a light coat, being from Florida, after all. We soon learned that everything was regimented. In order to maximize the number of troops in line to be served, we were instructed commanded to stand “Toe to heel,” and to “make the man in front of us smile.” We finished breakfast and began learning how to march in formation. As a former Boy Scout, I had a short head start on my “roommates.” We were issued our uniforms, and after a few seconds with the tailor, we left our dress uniforms and packed everything else into our duffel bags. The next day, it was time for calisthenics, running, and lots of drill. Being a tad pudgy, being a two-pack-a-day smoker (at 18), and being generally out of shape, I really struggled to keep up, and in fact fell farther and farther behind my fellow trainees. Then by my fourth day of Basic, it snowed. I had not seen snow since I left my birthplace in Indiana when I was four years old! My body immediately reacted and within a few days, just before I was transferred to a remedial physical education “flight,” in order to comply with Air Force physical standards, I contracted pneumonia. It was off to the hospital for what turned out to be almost ten days. Read more
November 30, 2015 by Larry Grinnell · Comments Off on Air Force Days, Part 1: How it Started
I was and am a very lucky man. I have had a wonderful working career, have traveled the world, met interesting people, many of whom are still friends after all these years. More than that, during my nine years and three months of service in the United States Air Force beginning in early 1973, there were no wars. It was one of the longer periods of peacetime in the 20th Century during my time in service. Of course, soon after I got out in 1982, all Hell broke loose.
When I was eighteen years old, I had to make some serious career choices. My job at a local radio station, Fort Lauderdale’s WAXY-FM, was coming to an end, as new owners were about to take over. While working for this station, which I talked about previously in a lengthy tome called I Learned About Radio From That, I was also attending Broward Community College (now simply Broward College) in the morning, and in the afternoon, was taking broadcast production courses at the nearby Lindsey-Hopkins Adult Education Center broadcasting facility in extreme southern Broward County (almost on the Miami-Dade County line), as I still had aspirations of being a radio star. Fortunately, I got over it. My rather high-pitched voice was further complicated by a slight lisp and a not-so-slight stutter that would manifest itself at the most inopportune moments; none of these “features” were conducive to an “on the mike” career in radio or television. Read more