I wasn’t going to wait around for Santa Claus again this year. After all…, I’ve been waiting damn near 10 long years since we put a roof on The Saddle Bar(n) and there is still no Big Screen TV with Home Theater Surround Sound out there. And my poetic license has expired on the statement in my “Tom Russell” piece about acquiring a new CD player. I had the best of intentions when I wrote it, but I still didn’t really have one. After the many years of disappointment regarding the Big Screen TV, I just didn’t think I could count on Santa to deliver even a simple CD player this year. Maybe I should cut ole Santa a little slack since I seem to be a bit remiss myself. But damn it…, that’s his job…, and this writing stuff is only my sometimes pastime.
So…, a little over a month or so back I took Julie shopping over in the city of Port Angeles at a trendy new mall with the Goodwill sign atop it. I hadn’t gone in there looking for a CD player…, but there it was. A Pioneer PD-M530, with a six disc changer! She was a cosmetic beauty…, but with a price tag of $9.95. It didn’t take me more than a few minutes to calculate that with a Washington state sales tax of over 8%, that I would be paying…, well…, I knew I wasn’t getting out of the store without completely burning a $10 bill.
I hurried off to find Julie and confirm the deal…, before some other observant and savvy stereo component aficionado happened upon the scene and snapped it up before I could. I was breathing a little hard when I found her…, and she noticed. She got kind of wide eyed and concerned looking, “Are you all right? What’s wrong? What happened?” I was still trying to catch my breath, couldn’t speak yet, and I put my hand up to my chest. “Are you having a heart attack? Should I call an ambulance? Are you going to be all right?” she asked.
No, no…, I wasn’t THAT excited about the CD Player. But I didn’t want Julie to know that the excitement was out of concern for her. You see, when I couldn’t find her after a trip or two around the store I became concerned for her safety. I thought that something terrible may have happened to her, or that she might be lost and I may have become a little panicky and began to run from isle to isle looking for her. I was on the verge of screaming for her on about the fifth full speed trip around the store, when I finally spotted her…, much to my relief. And I think there were some other patrons in the store who were relieved as well.
Anyway…, after I managed to catch my breath, I explained to her that I knew the CD player was on the expensive side but that it was a quality product and looked good. “Does it work?” she asked. I gave her my most incredulous look and in my best condescending voice, I said that I was pretty damn sure that it worked just fine, since I could not imagine anyone who would pawn off some worthless piece of stereo equipment on a Goodwill store instead of paying to dispose of it at the city dump. Her jaw kind of dropped, she stared me in the eye, and shook her head back and forth…, in total agreement with me that no one would even consider such a thing. She said, “Well, they do have a 30 day money back guarantee on those things. You can always bring it back. Go ahead and go get it.” I told her that I wasn’t in a big hurry…, that I would just hang out with her until she was done shopping and we would go get it together.
A couple of weeks later I was out in The Saddle Bar(n)…, warming my feet by the fire, drying out…, and rehydrating with ice cold Hamm’s in front of the stove after a long, wet day cleaning up horse manure and doing a few other chores. I was a little put out that that KISM-FM wasn’t coming in real clear on the stereo that day…, when I realized that I had a new used Pioneer PD-M530 Six Disc CD Player behind the seat of the Toyota! It was almost like Christmas all over again…, especially when I found that it was loaded with six Christmas music CD’s. I set her up, wired her to the Heathkit 1515 Receiver, and plugged her in. It was a sweet sound…, hearing the motor whir and a CD get slipped into place…, again…, and again…, and again. That beautiful machine cycled through all six discs without playing a one. I kept pushing buttons and changing setting trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. It was obvious to me that the machine was working fine…, but I couldn’t figure out the controls…, no matter how many times I tried the same things…, over and over. My new machine would just shuffle those discs around without making any music.
I immediately started calculating how much money I would have left after getting my 10 bucks back from the Goodwill in Port Angeles. About a 150 mile round trip, and gas at over $4 a gallon…, the little Toyota would have to get like…, how many miles to the gallon to come out on this deal? Well…, I had already had a few…, quite a few…, ice cold Hamm’s by that time. I don’t give up on a mechanical problem real easily. As long as it isn’t to physically taxing anyway. But I had had too many beers to make the numbers work out…, so I thought maybe I should just let the old Pioneer acclimatize for a few days out in The Saddle Bar(n) and see if that helped it’s performance.
I’m not sure why…, but that didn’t fix the problem. Nor did a week…, or two, of acclimatization. So I got on the Internet and did a Google search for “How to Repair a Pioneer SX-636 Six Disc CD Player That Just Cycles Through the Six Discs But Won’t Play Any of Them”. I was hoping to find a link to a YouTube video showing just where to smack the little jewel to put it back in working order. No luck with that. But there was a site where someone had written in describing that problem and some guy responded that he had seen some of those models in which the “lens” had fallen out and he had some luck gluing them back in with electronic glue. He said not to use Super Glue, as that would ruin the lens. Well…, the extent of my electronic repair experience has always been a well-placed…, or if not well placed…, forcefully delivered…, smack or kick. Sometimes a matchbook worked in the case of the old 8-track tape players. But I had some serious money invested and a now expired “warranty”, so I wasn’t about to give up on it.
I removed five of the three screws holding the cover on the unit…, and decided I should get some additional lighting to compliment the dimly lit barroom atmosphere before proceeding on. Once I had a little better view of the inner workings of the unit, I plugged it in and watched each one of those CD’s shuffle in and out of place and noticed that there was a little red light visible on the underside of another gizmo type component when she was in play mode. Being able to see a little better, I only had to remove four of the four tiny little screws holding the gizmo in place. I lifted the gizmo up and turned it over, looking for a lens. I thought I should plug her back in and try to find that little red light…, when I realized that I hadn’t unplugged it before I started probing around with the screw driver or my fingers. I congratulated myself for my efficiency in not wasting time and energy by unplugging, then having to plug the machine back in. I also thought maybe I should have a beer and a cigarette to steady my shaky hands. After the break I looked around a bit and saw what looked to be a glass chip…, about the size of a BB, or a high quality $ 10 diamond…, lying in the bottom of the player. I wasn’t sure what it was…, so I managed to pick it up, take it in the house and look at it under a magnifying glass. Sure enough, it showed signs of sophisticated human contact at some point in time. It appeared that one side had a slight beveled out shape, so I assumed that side would point to the disk.
I knew I would need Julie’s help to apply the glue. I hollered at her to come give me a hand. I hollered again…, and again. I finally found her in the closet. I was going to ask her what she was doing in there when she said, “I’m too busy to help you now. I always get hurt when I have to help you.” I finally convinced her that I wouldn’t be using any power tools, or heavy equipment, or shovels or rakes or hammers or knives or pliers or screwdrivers or anything else that could hurt her. I also assured her that she wouldn’t have to go outside and get wet or cold or dirty or sweaty or muddy or greasy and she wouldn’t even have to go out to the Bar. I did mention that later, when I returned to The Saddle Bar(n), if she saw a bright flash and the electricity went out…, she might want to check on me. She started to speak, but I cut her off and explained that all I needed was for her to put some glue on a little piece of glass. She asked what piece of glass and I showed her the piece under the magnifying glass. When I asked her where the electronic glue was, she gave me a strange look and said she would go get it.
I didn’t know we had any electronic glue. That was really a bluff, and I intended to send her to Forks to get some when she couldn’t produce it. She assured me that’s what it was she returned with a tiny container that I could seem to get a good look at. I wouldn’t have used anything else. I held the sliver of glass and the magnifying glass while she used a toothpick to dab a couple of drops of glue on the two little spots that my fingers didn’t cover up. Then I dashed out to The Saddle Bar(n) and tried to installed the lens without smearing what little bit of glue we had on the edges anywhere else.
Well…, that’s about the end of this story. My poetic license has been renewed and I am no longer lying when you read that I am listening to Tom Russell CD’s in The Saddle Bar(n). And if Santa finally makes it out to The Ranch this Christmas with the Big Screen TV with Home Theater…, I will once again be waiting up for him…, and we can listen to Tom Russell or Bruce Springsteen while we are setting up the system and sipping Hot Cocoa with a quite liberal splash of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum added. And if Santa doesn’t like Tom or Bruce…, I have six bonus CD’s of Christmas music we can slip in the new CD player.
Merry Christmas Everyone Everywhere !!!!