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      Wednesday, March 01, 2023

10:18 AM - 03/01/2023

The topic: It’s cold. Not a fan.


I just don't like it. It's hard for me to get moving when I can't feel my fingers. Sure, we have a furnace but it runs on natural gas and guess whose utility company has some of the highest rates in the county? (We DO have the highest electric rates in the country.)

Us! We do! And gee whiz, wouldn't you know that surprise surprise! Our company just realized they made record profits last year! More money for the shareholders, they're gonna up the dividend! (We have a whole two shares, that I bought in a snit because I suck at stock picks and they always tank, I figured I'd tank theirs, but it didn't work.)

Anyway, we've had some pretty crappy weather this year so far. Barely time to dry out from one storm when the next one hits. The trees like it. It should help with their health.

I've been kind of busy the past couple of weeks. Brian traveled up to Tulare last month (on Valentine's Day!) for the world ag show. He does this for business, but like the past couple of times he's gone, there were no new tractors to look at and the folks manning the booths were clueless as to the future products. All in all, a waste of time for him. But not me!

I got a wild hair up my butt to find a new a/v receiver. Not that I used the old one for video, just audio. The one we have is decades old and the remote doesn't work. I have it set up for surround sound (can you believe I'm still using speakers I had before we got married back in 1985?)  Anyway, I did a bunch of research and came up with a Denon unit. One of the reasons I hadn't updated yet was for a while, you couldn't find one of these with phono inputs. And now that turntables and vinyl are coming back into vogue, it's fairly easy to find a receiver with phono inputs. So, I narrowed down my choice to two Denon receivers. I figured out what I'd actually need for what I already had and realized I didn't need all the inputs on the higher priced machine, that the smaller one would do just fine. The choices were an AVR-S760H and an AVR-S970H. At the time, the S760 also had a $100.00 discount, so a difference of $150.00. But wait...I checked the price on the CostCo site and the S760 was only $399.00. That's when I really started thinking about what I needed and didn't need.

I use a switch box for the various devices that are sent to the receiver. You know, television, DVD player, cable, etc. What I have hooked up to the receiver are the switchbox, 100+ CD player, two CD recorders (got those to make mix discs for the car, before computers could do it), a dual cassette player/recorder and the turntable. So, five devices. I could pull out the cassette player and the CD recorders. Leaving me with three that would connect directly to the receiver. And that's all I needed. Still on the fence, I found a webpage that had a comparison between the two systems.

Okay, so I can live with just two analog inputs, the switchbox and the CD player (the phono has a separate input because the turntable needs a pre-amp). With a savings of around two hundred and fifty dollars, I decided I could get the receiver from CostCo.  I wasn't going to pay for it from the household fund, but with the incentive card we got from the state earlier this year. I waited until Brian got home on Wednesday to ask what he thought. "It's your money."  I bought the thing. I

So, the next day I started pulling out stuff I'd just been dumping in the cabinet. Like glasses, pet brushes, it had just become a minor catchall. I rarely used the receiver for anything at this point. I pushed the power button on the receiver. No response. I figured there must be a problem with the plug. Brian pulled the center away from the wall and I started following cords. Which one was for the receiver?  It was over an hour later when I discovered the problem. One of those types of things that would have you banging your head on the wall.

LAST YEAR I SET IT UP WITH A SMART PLUG! I NEEDED TO ASK ALEXA TO TURN THE DAMNED THING ON! No wonder it wouldn't start. I removed the smart plug, plugged the receiver into the power strip and it turned on. I took the smart plug back into the office where Brian was working and held it up. I said "smart plug"  then tapped myself on the forehead and said "not so smart plug".  Walked out shaking my head.

Now that the center was out from the wall, I took advantage and started removing everything but the turntable. For the CD player, I couldn't find where it plugged in. I had Brian come hold the receiver (it's super heavy) pulled out from the shelf and found the cord, followed it as far as I could, and found that it plugged in to the back of the receiver.  Wow! Who knew (as I said, this was set up decades ago)? And had somehow come loose and was just kind of connected. It took a little wiggling around to completely disconnect. Anyway, got that disconnected and the receiver pushed back in. Just for kicks, I tried the remote.

It worked. The damned thing worked. I sat down and digested this. Since the old receiver now works, do I really need the new one? The one still in the never opened box in the extra room? The one that cost, with tax, $430? No, I do not. It will be returned to CostCo next week, the refund applied to the debit card used to pay for it.

There were a few issues. When I had the CD player reconnected and tried to play a disk, I got an error message. Google being a very close friend, I asked it about this problem. And it gave me some leads on fixing it. Most of them described a belt stretching out and coming loose. Okay. I checked out Amazon for replacement belts and ordered a set. For around fourteen bucks. It would take a few days to get here, give me time to get set up. Some of the people discussed getting O rings at a hardware store for under a dollar. Okay. I'll check with Brian on that, cancel the Amazon order.

I opened up the CD case. Looking for the belt. There was nothing. No belt. The fixit solutions all made it sound like the belt would be right there, in my face. I couldn't find it. Back to Google. I found a youtube video that showed how to replace the belt. I paused the video. I looked at my player. There was no belt. What there was, was a bunch of black goo. I mean, I'm talking major ick. I touched it with my fingers, which coated them with said goo. Brian was back in his shop at this point and I walked back, with my hand in the air. I asked him "how would I remove this black goo that's in place of the belt?"

Yeah, of course, he had to come inside and see what I was talking about. He'd never seen or heard of such a thing. He looked inside the machine and unscrewed the guides at the top. Now the problem area could be slid over to work on. He was just as amazed as I was. I found that rubbing alcohol would remove this (this goo is a real thing!). I have that! I can do this!

It took hours. Once I had it cleaned, I let Brian know and he checked his O ring stock, nothing he had would work, he went over to his brother's house and he found a few that might work. He came home, put the O ring on, put the case back together and now it worked properly. Yay!

I also reinstalled one of the CD recorders. I realized that I could record from the turntable to this recorder and since I had the room, why not?

I replaced the old switchbox, now I can add eight devices, changed out the optical splitter (receiver, headphones, soundbar, switchbox) and upgraded to a newer version of the adapter for the RCA to the switchbox. I also attached an Amazon Echo input (that I can use the MyMedia app to pull music from my NAS) and bought a Chromecast Audio from Walmart online (third party seller, Google has discontinued selling them) so I can cast music (using the Plex app) from my Android phone. And there's the streaming that the Denons have that this old receiver doesn't.

Brian was an absolute angel. I'd ask him to pull out the center from the wall. Then I'd do what I needed to do. Promise I was done. Then I wasn't. I kept coming up with something else I needed to do. The only time he balked was when I needed a bigger hole in the center wall behind the receiver. He was so afraid of cutting wires, but he was a champ and got it done.  I do have one thing left to do and that's move the turntable to the shelf above (on top of the CD player). But I'm in no hurry at this point.

And I ordered a replacement remote from eBay. It should be here today.


I need to check out a smart plug ... I have something to plug in where we can’t reach the outlet ... maybe a smart plug would work ... except I might be too dumb for a smart plug .... LOL but yes good idea!

Posted by Turtle Lover @ Friday, March 03, 2023 - 5:34:25 AM

lisaviolet's avatar

Once you get it down, smart plugs are pretty easy to use. If you can set up smart devices like Google or Alexa assistant/speakers, you can set up a smart plug.

As much as I don’t love our utility company, I did get a great deal on a smart thermostat (Sensi) a while back. It was selling for $125.00 and with a promotion from the utility company, I filled in a form and got the thermostat for $25.00. The checkout guy at Home Depot didn’t believe it was right. But it was.

It’s scheduled to come on at 6:30 am and this morning in bed (5:30) when Brian didn’t want to get up because it was cold, I called out “Alexa, set heat at 65°” and it came on. Then I called out “Alexa, morning on!”

Which turns on a light in the family room and two in the living room. I have a routine set that turns those off at 6:45am, since it’s light enough then.

We don’t care if we’re being monitored, lol. The worst they’d hear is us calling the animals names.


Posted by lisaviolet @ Friday, March 03, 2023 - 6:10:28 AM

We have a “nest” thermostat and I don’t voice activate it but I love that I can lay in bed and turn it on

Posted by Turtle Lover @ Saturday, March 04, 2023 - 6:13:59 AM

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lisaviolet is seventy something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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