June 25th, 2009

Payback





At the Belmont Public Library In the 50s I read every word in the magazines Popular Science, Popular Electronics, Popular Mechanics and the Scientific American. I learned that a television picture tube had a powerful magnet on a metal sleeve that was attached to its neck, which served to focus the beams of electrons as they hit the phosphor-covered screen. My own experiments with our TV in the living room confirmed this rather simple little fact.

Always eager to prove to my father that I was an enormously bright little boy, and thus worthy of his admiration and love, I devised what I thought was a brilliant plan. Early each morning for a week, when he was fast asleep upstairs, I opened up the back of the TV and moved the magnet about an eighth of an inch. Over that period the picture became dimmer and dimmer, until one evening my father finally angrily said, “Goddamned fuckin’ TV!”

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