President's Message
October 2000

1. A study of 30 women in Westchester NY doing high-impact aerobics showed possible damage to the otoliths of inner ear. These are small granules that float in a gel and cause balance information to be transmitted to the brain. Symptoms incuded persistent vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, motion sickness, ringing or fullness in the ear and high frequency hearing loss. Despite this, most of the women refused to give up high-impact aerobics. A contributing factor is the high volume levels of music being played--a 1995 study found that 60 percent of health clubs consistently played music exceeding 110 dB [Shape 2-98]. [NYT 6Apr94].

2. Adventures in RCA connector land. Occasionally I have been troubled by a loss of one channel in my audio system. Troubleshooting would lead to a suspect connection, and replacing the RCA cable seemed to solve the problem. Frustratingly, the removed cable checked OK for continuity, even while flexing the ends, and it worked perfectly elsewhere. Some of my cables are 40 years old, with noticeable wear on the pins. I decided to use a micrometer to check the diameter. New connectors and most of the used ones measured close to the 1/8" standard, .125", generally plus zero and minus 1/1000th of an inch. Some of the old ones (particulary Switchcraft) measured .122", which resulted in a loose fit in some well worn connectors. Clearly I was on to something. Only 1/1000th of an inch made the difference between noticeable resistance when inserting the plug (good wiping action for a reliable connection) and a loose fit causing an unreliable connection. I went through my cable collection and culled out all cables with pin diameters less than .124" and cut off the ends, for future repairs. One 4 channel cable, which looked new, measured .122" on all 8 connectors. I remembered having some problems with that cable and had already replaced one of the RCAs. I saved some of the undersized plugs with .123" and .124" pin diameters, bent back and cut off the outer ground leaves, and labeled them for test plugs. I then inserted them in various jacks to test for worn or sprung contacts. One molded Y adaptor was loose with a .123" plug so I discarded it since no repair was possible. The only worn-out jacks were on my test bench. (Sometimes it is possible to renew a jack by inserting a safety pin from the inside and bending back the contacts). I have heard that some premium RCA cables have oversize pins. This would ensure perfect connections with all jacks, even the most worn ones, but, by springing the contacts, would also ensure that lessor cables would be intermittent!

3. Romantically-challenged audio buffs may be interested to hear that the actress Kim Cattrall, has married Mark Levinson. She plays the slut Samantha Jones in the HBO series Sex in the City, and has starred in Porkys, Mannequin, Bonfire of the Vanities and Honeymoon Hotel. He plays the tambura, flugelhorn and double bass and used to make high end audio equipment. He is currently selling stereo equipment at his store Red Rose Music in Manhattan, having lost his Mark Levinson line to Madrigal and having lost Cello (now a French restaurant). [From the New York Observer website, appeared in 7/31/00 edition].


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updated 11/11/04