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Garmin Alpha Review: Still the top dog?

A review of the Garmin Alpha 100 dog tracker
The underdogs and I like to go places.  Remote places...places no man has gone before.  At least no man not wearing blaze orange.  This means being prepared for the unknown.  The unexpected.  The lost.  This means gps tracking.

The Garmin Alpha is the Thundarr Barbarian of the dog tracking world.  Rugged, a little rough around the edges but the technology it wields may just bring peace in a post apocalyptic world.  This thing opens doors just not possible prior to owning it , and does so while sweating testosterone.  Yeah, I like it just fine.
As a reminder, my reviews are not technical specs or full of scientific testing.  My reviews are about how any given product may fit into or enhance the life of a mid-life fool like me.  There may be a few like-minded souls out there.  The wise ones, I call them.  Those who know to really disconnect, you need* technology.   Those of us battling mortality can often take solace in the distraction of ou…


Just Getting Better With Time

I like lights.

This is Kenny.

Kenny is a Kenwood Model Eleven II receiver.  I found Kenny when we moved into this house a few years ago.  He was stuffed behind a furnace among mouse droppings, three arrows and a wooden christmas tree.

I was very excited to see Kenny.  You see, I love vintage things.  I mean I LOVE old radios and speakers.  I knew he wouldn't work.  I knew he was heavy.  Still...I couldn't help but immediately bond with this kindred spirit.  You see, us creatures from the 70's need to stick together.  With a little TLC we might just prove we get better with time.  

I like to think about Kenny's life.  I mean he probably started out as a shiny newborn looking out at the world from his wonderful view on a shelf...maybe Montgomery Wards or Sears perhaps.  It doesn't really matter, he had his whole life ahead of him.  He was going to work hard and bring a lot of smiles to the world.

I imagine in his prime he served as the centerpiece of living room entertainment.  You knew the frequency, kenneth.  

Everything from Paul Harvey to Bob Seger...Kenny had shared it all in amazing high fidelity.  Oh the stories he shared.  He worked hard and he produced.  He was on top of the world.  Then Kenny hit the thirties or so and he was likely relegated to the wood shop.  There, covered in dust he continued to try and defy time.   Turning his knobs probably led to a little cranky static.  Old man feedback like a shorted wire.  Every once in a while his left side, or maybe the right, would crackle and then simply stop responding.  Still, through that dusty, weathered exterior lay the soul of a warrior.  He wasn't as good as he once was, but he was good once as he ever was.  If you were ok with only one station because the tuner was broken.

Eventually Kenny neared fifty years old.  The lights had grown dim.  Kenny still had a lot to say but nothing ever came out.  He used to be so connected but now none of his output matched anyone's input.  I am sure those around him felt it was time for a proper burial.  The fact that he was fat, out of shape and mostly dead...or perhaps out of some sentimental attachment, that proper burial was determined to be behind the furnace among the mouse droppings.  Goodbye Kenny.  

Years passed.  Mice came and went.  The story was over at 50.  Or was it?
When I saw poop-covered Kenny, left for dead by the previous house owners, it was like being struck by lighting.  I saw myself.   I immediately swept off the droppings with my bare hands and ran to plug Kenny in as if time was critical.  We need 120 volts...stat!  Jamming that lifeline into the receptacle, I refused to let Kenny die.  Racing to get my cheater glasses i found the power button and saying a little prayer to the vintage gods and holding my breath I flipped the switch and waited.  I knew it might take a few minutes because its harder to turn on 50 year old things.

Slowly, and barely perceptible, a faint light flickered across that magnificent tuner.  Kenny was 50, but Kenny had a pulse.   His story was not yet over.  Not this day and not on my watch.  Running to grab one of my dozens of half working speakers I hooked him up and hoped for magic.  There was to be no magic.  He opened his mouth but no words came out.  Kenny was alive...but barely.  

It took a year or two of intense surgery, a little solder, and a lot of beer...but this is Kenny today.  Age 50 and kicking it through some 40 year old Baby Advents that I re-foamed with duct tape and a furnace filter or something like that.  Kenny tells me he likes hanging out with young pups like these bad boys from the 80's...it helps keep him young and vibrant.  They can't really even handle the power this boomer brings.  I am working on upgrading him to better sidekicks because raw, clean power like 50 year old Kenny brings to the table really calls for friends that can handle his roll.  He needs 1970's woofers.  Still, he is in beautiful, throaty, tube-powered voice and the stories he shares sound like a long lost friend.

kenwood model eleven and baby advents
You can't handle the truth baby advents.

So if you learn anything from the story of Kenny just remember this.  First, all things produced in the seventies are awesome, without exception.  Second, life can begin again at fifty...you just need a little more help, a little more work, some artificial parts and a little more caffeine.  

Oh yeah, Kenny is now Alexa enabled, because, why not?  We are vintage, not dead.  In fact, the older we get the more we appreciate some new parts and a couple upgrades.  Technology rocks...and so does Kenny.  Just getting better with time and a lot of stories yet to tell.  He does still smell a little funny though.


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