October 1973: I was born 3 months prematurely, probably as a result of the fact that my so-called “mother” chain-smoked during the pregnancy. By her own admission, she knew full well that the “choice” to smoke during pregnancy was strongly correlated with both premature birth, and lower birth-weight in those infants lucky enough to make it to “term”.
The primary result of this? Visual impairment (“retinopathy of prematurity”).
Ca. 1979: A Non-white family moves in down the block. Since both of my parents are bigoted towards “rickins” (Puerto Ricans), my (barely-functional alcoholic) “father” decides to saddle us with a 30-year balloon mortgage with payments he can barely afford, and move us out to a depressing little pseudo-suburb which only exists due to “White Flight”.
Since the new house is 10 miles further away from their respective workplaces, my parents are *also* required to saddle themselves with (equally unaffordable) car payments, related to two new cars. (My “father” has to be able to “hook up” with drunken bar-sluts without my “mother” noticing, as we later discover.)
Ca. October-December 1983(?): I receive a “Denshi block” kit as a gift.
I don’t remember how far I got in the book, or whether I managed to complete all of the circuit examples.
Summer 1985: Over the course of a single (memorable and fun) weekend, I discovered shortwave listening *and* amateur radio.
The only friend I actually had from school at the time had a boombox, which included various “shortwave” bands. I vividly remember: BBC world service, Radio Deutsche Welle, etc.
Also, I stumbled across what (in retrospect) was most likely some guys working AM in the 80 meter amateur band.
During that same summer, more or less on impulse, I bought a guitar for 1$ ( at a yard-sale).
I ended up taking several months of impromptu “lessons” from my Great-uncle Warren (who introduces me to Bluegrass and what is now called “old time” music — fiddle tunes, etc.)
November 1985: Warren dies unexpectedly, leaving me with no idea how to proceed.
1986: While rummaging around at a library, I acquired a pre-1964 ARRL handbook (vacuum-tube designs, “conditional” class licenses, etc.)
Although not all of the information is directly applicable, I did manage to glean at least a vague understanding of the “basics” — enough to become even more intrigued.
At the time, however, I had no idea how to go about finding more information (let alone acquiring a more current ARRL handbook).
Around this same time, I met Ray.
Ray claimed to have played mandolin in several high-profile Bluegrass groups all over the U.S. back in the 1970s, but oddly enough, all I ever saw him do is “lurk” around the RV park where my parents were members (even though we never had an RV, and only occasionally used the pool).
Ray turned out to be a convicted pedophile who was (at the time) awaiting sentencing. Thankfully, I manage to survived the entire episode without experiencing “bad touch” of any kind.
(the experience was, however, rather traumatizing).
The only “good” thing to come out of the Ray fiasco, was that he introduced me to Nev Jackson, and I began taking guitar lessons from him (the first lessons since Warren died back in 1986).
At Nev’s monthly “jam-sessions” I ended up befriending 3 Mennonite brothers, and began “hanging out” with them on a fairly regular basis.
1989-90: When presented with the opportunity to attend the local Vo-tech school for a portion of the school day, I jumped at the chance.
My first “hands-on” efforts at electronics (assembling a transistor radio kit) were spectacularly unsuccessful, resulting in melted/burned components (primarily do to my lackluster abilities at soldering — having never soldered before).
One of the other students, however, had been an amateur radio operator for approximately 2 years at that point (since he was 14).
I began “hanging out” with him, and manage to pass my Novice class exam (Call-sign: KA3YVF)
October 1990: my (burnt-out drunk) father finally decided to abandon us, so he can shack up with some skank who I never bothered to meet in person.
Summer 1991: I upgraded to “Technician plus” license class (call-sign: N3JUS)
During a 6-week “Bluegrass string camp” held at one of the local schools, I met Dan (a mandolin player), who introduces me to his brother Tom (a guitarist, ex-marine, and computer repair person).
I “hung out” with them a few times (jam sessions at Tom’s place, mostly), but no “gigs” or anything.
October 1991: After nearly a year of no contact whatsoever, Dad unexpectedly dropped 2000 dollars on me, out of the blue, before promptly disappearing again.
This money served to purchase the following:
1. A multi-track tape recorder
2. A small guitar-amplifier
3. A multi-effects “stomp box” (reverb/distortion/pitch shifter, etc.)
4. A Uniden HR-2510 10-meter transceiver
5. A “pyramid” power-supply
6. A (modified) “big-stik” antenna suitable for use on 10 meters
7. A 2 meter HT (I can’t recall the model number, for some reason)
8. A 2-meter ground plane antenna for use with #7
9. A portable short-wave receiver of some kind (Grundig?)
10. Some sort of “packet radio” thing or other which I don’t quite remember
These purchases were the crude beginnings of two recurrent “projects” which I have been attempting to re-create since: a home “recording studio”, and a “ham shack”.
November 1991: my mother allowed my idiot, heroin-addict half-brother to move back into her house after he was evicted from his apartment (because he used his rent-money to buy heroin)
His first action was to “accidentally” damage or destroy all of the above-listed items (with the exception of the two outdoor antennas, portable shortwave receiver, 2 meter HT, and multi-track recorder) which I had already managed to move to another part of the house.
His “reasoning” for damaging/destroying several boxes of stuff I valued? My ‘stupid shit” was in his way, so he did what any drug-addled psychopath would do: simply kicked several boxes down the stairs.
At that point, I decided that — until and unless I was subsequently able to relocate, and sever all contact with the junkie psychopath *and* his enabler/apologist (my so-called “mother”), I wouldn’t try either the recording lab *or* anything ham radio/shortwave-related which was non-portable, lest it be “accidentally” damaged/destroyed, again.
Autumn 1992: I relocated (briefly) to Williamsport, PA.
1993: I returned “home”.
Around this time, I began actively doing “gigs” with Tom, Dan and Dan’s brother Dale, under the name “Goose Creek Boys”. (Tom, Dan and Dale have been sporadically doing “gigs” since 1991.
1995: Cleason (the father of my 3 Mennonite friends) joind GCB as bass player.
1991-1998: During this time-period, my involvement with ham radio and shortwave listening consisted primarily of (very limited) 2-meter activities on various local repeater nets, and copious amounts of short-wave listening.
Late 1998: The drug-addled psychopath’s delusions finally erupted into full-blown psychosis. As “payback” for having re-formatted the hard drive of a virus-riddled desktop computer he had acquired from one of his drug-addled friends (so as to reinstall the operating system so that the thing would actually be usable), he smashed my portable short-wave receiver, and threatened to destroy everything else that I own.
Thankfully a co-worker allowed me to “crash” at her apartment. Eventually, I ended up taking over the lease on her apartment (since she was in the process of moving to the Philadelphia area), in a town approximately 10 miles from the junkie scumbag.
At this point, I severed all contact with the junkie/his apologist (in much the same way as I had done with my “father” 7 years prior).
1998-1999: With my time more or less completely dominated by GCB gigs, working on a loading-dock (!!!), and various attempts at multi-track recording, I don’t really “do” much with either amateur radio or short-wave listening during this time. The apartment was rather small, but since I was away from the junkie psychopath, and my his enabler/apologist, so I was, overall, much happier than I had been since early 1991.
1999-2000: I resumed contact with the (former) co-worker whose apartment I had taken over when she moved to Philadelphia. Gradually the relationship progressed from increasingly-long telephone calls, to visits, to actively becoming romantically involved.
Early 2001: my “Technician-plus” amateur radio license expired. Having no equipment, (almost) no space, and comparatively little time, I put off getting it renewed.
Against my better judgment, Gail convinced me to resume contact with the junkie psychopath and my (so-called) “mother”.
Her own family is significantly less “dysfunctional”, and as a result (at the time), she was unable to wrap her mind around why anyone would *ever* discontinue contact with relatives.
(Over the next 14 years, she figured it out, first-hand.)
2002: Gail (my former co-worker) and I married. With two occupants, the apartment was *significantly* tighter quarters.
2003-2006: Gail and I relocated to a row-house which is (nominally) owned by my Great-Aunt and Grandmother. Theoretically, in lieu of “rent”, we paid the property taxes, keep the oil tank filled, clean out/sell off all of the leftover antiques etc. — in preparation for having repairs etc. done, at which point we would buy the property directly from my Great-Aunt/Grandmother.
This failed to happen, for several reasons:
1. For starters, the property was severely decayed (having been virtually abandoned for over 10 years before we moved in).
2. The property itself is in the middle of what is essentially a “crack-slum”.
3. Anti-slumlord ordinances have made the building codes significantly tighter than my Great-Aunt/Grandmother realized.
2006: I discover the 2 meter HT which I had thought lost/stolen/destroyed back in 1998 (by the junkie psychopath). For some reason, this gets me thinking about amateur radio/shortwave listening again.
In a single testing-session, I manage to pass the Novice, Technician and General (Call-sign: KB3OJG)
2006-2008: GCB was extremely busy during these years.
2008: Gail experienced a serious health-crisis, resulting in her becoming “legally blind”.
August 2010: my last gig with GCB.
November 2010: Gail and I decided to relocate to Florida, for various reasons.
Early 2011: During the unpacking for the move, I found the 2 meter HT. As luck would have it, one of the repeater frequencies for one of the local machines is identical to one from back in PA. This also happens to be the only repeater I can “hit” with this HT (500 milliwatts maximum output power!).
Late 2011: the only repeater I can “hit” locally went down.
January 2012: I returned to PA for 2 weeks (which got me interested in music again).
October 2013: Against my better judgment, Gail and I returned to PA for the “memorial celebration of life” for Frank, my mother’s most-recent husband, who had died a few months previous.
Highlights of the trip:
1. My mother had been experiencing uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea for over a week, without either mentioning it to anyone or seeking medical attention.
2. The junkie psychopath utterly failed to notice the above fact.
3. When he finally *did* manage to notice, he proceeded to accuse Gail and I of attempting to murder my mother (for Frank’s life-insurance), and then (ineptly) attack me — in my own mother’s driveway.
4. The junkie psychopath then proceeded to *lie to the police* about the above, claiming that he had “already apologized”, but that I had just “taken things out of context.”
The cop was — oddly — unable to explain exactly what “context” could possibly justify accusations of *attempted murder* followed by assault.
(TL;DR: I flatly refuse to have any further contact with either of them, and am exceedingly unlikely to *ever* step foot anywhere within the boundaries of the state of Pennsylvania, for any reason whatsoever, in the future.
However, in the unlikely event that I *do* return to PA for any reason, I *will* be armed to whatever extent is possible at the time — pepper spray/stun gun/firearm, etc.)
Needless to say: if the delusional sub-animal ever attempts something like that again, it will be punished severely. (Note: this is one of many reasons why — as of this writing — I refuse to ever set foot anywhere within Lebanon County, PA again — until and unless I have proof that both the Junkie psychopath AND the Enabler/apologist are dead.