Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Edison, Tesla and Twist?

I was a curious child growing up. Not curious as in strange, although that may also have been true, but curious about everything. My favorite reading material in the bathroom was the Worldbook Encyclopedia. My parents gave me chemistry kits, hoping I would grow up to be a scientist. I played with all the chemicals in the various experiments and decided that chemistry was a little too boring, though the fireproof matches were quite interesting. Stick matches dipped in an asbestos solution. The most exciting results were achieved by making the stink bomb using sulphur and wax.

I used to take things apart to see how they work. Radios, TVs, (Dad’s old slide projector... I’m not sure he ever knew) lawnmowers etc. Working on lawnmowers and cars convinced me I’d never be a mechanic. Plumbing held no appeal either. I eventually gravitated to electronics. I took electronics classes in high school and learned a lot. I’ve lost track of how many crystal radio sets I’ve built. I also etched circuit boards, built a metal detector and a lie detector. But for some not to be mentioned here circumstances, I might have become an electrical engineer. As it is, I handle financial records and dabble in ham radio and other miscellaneous electronics.

Back in the 70’s I collected electrical project schematics. One of the more interesting was a “working” Star Trek communicator. When finished, it would look like the one Captain Kirk used and was a functioning walkie talkie. Most of the projects I never built, but I kept most of the plans. I remembered one of the projects from the past when I heard about a Tesla cell phone charger. Basically, the unit uses radio and electromagnetic waves all around us to generate enough current to charge a cell phone. I finally tracked down the schematic for that project. That prompted me to go back to my plans from the 1970’s. There was a similar project that generated 3 volts DC output. Though the newer plan doesn’t specify the exact output, it incorporates a similar, yet apparently updated design. In the 70’s, 3V DC wasn’t of much use. Now that is sufficient power to charge a multitude of modern portable electronics.

I have to wonder if such devices have been carefully hidden away by battery companies, patents purchased and filed in deep dark basements by gasoline or natural gas companies, or if such inventions have simply been pooh poohed by those who would say there is no perpetual motion or free energy machines. You decide. I’m going to try my hand at tapping into plucking free energy from the airwaves.

T Boone, give me a call,


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Riverscapes Wallpaper

I was browsing for kayak or canoe view riverscapes and only found a few I really liked. I decided I ought to take some while on the river.

Hope you like them,


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Couple Who Knew Too Little

I was inspired by a show I saw a number of years ago, The Man Who Knew too Little, with Bill Murray. In the show, Bill Murray’s character, intending to participate in a personalized live drama called The Theater of Life, gets caught up in a real adventure of murder, intrigue and mystery.

About a year ago I decided that the storyline could be adapted to a date with my wife for a birthday or anniversary. The birthday came and went without sufficient planning to pull off the event, but as our anniversary approached I began fine tuning the details.

Ideally the scenario needs 5 or 6 actors, but we made do with 4, starring some of my children and their spouses, each dressed for the part. All got pretty caught up in their parts, one in particular with makeup to portray a dead body.

Stage One was the First Contact to start the “assignment.” I had planned a telephone message, but couldn’t quite get the machine to accept the audio so had to settle for an email message. It went like this:

“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re m only hope.”

This was Princess Leia audio from Star Wars. The second part of the message came from an internet audio reader. I picked a British/Australian female voice that said, “Be at Barnes and Noble at exactly 6:03pm. Look in the 2nd Bourne Identity book from the left.”

Our Stage Two actor placed The Rules of Jason Bourne in the appropriate book just before we arrived then waited, hidden in the stacks for us to arrive. Hand written at the bottom of the rules were the words, “FOOD COURT ASAP SIT.”

After finding the rules in the book we proceeded to the food court in the mall, unknowingly followed by the actress from Stage Two. Almost immediately after sitting at the food court, my wife with her back to the approaching actor, a newspaper was placed discreetly on our table and the actress, wearing a scarf and sunglasses, walked on.

I use the word discreetly, but I was wearing a tuxedo looking 007 outfit, my wife her slinking dress and we both were wearing sunglasses. Amazing how few looks we actually got. You wouldn’t believe some of the other outfits we’ve worn to the mall.

In this Stage Three the newspaper contained a paper rolled up inside. Originally I was going to have an airsoft gun rolled up in the newspaper also, but it was too bulky. The clue paper had a picture of a prominent landmark in town and words printed like cut out newspaper letters that said:


We made our way through the mall back to the car and travelled to the landmark. I had set a time schedule for each stage of the drama, but needed to drive it ahead of time to make sure. Generally we were close.

In Stage Four at the landmark the next actress was wearing a white wig and wearing a black outfit. When my wife asked if she was our next contact, she asked for the passcode. My wife dutifully repeated, “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re m only hope.”

The contact showed us a Toppest Top Secret envelope, placed it in a briefcase and locked it. She handed me an airsoft gun, handcuffed the briefcase to my wife’s right hand and said, “Deliver this to the Institute. You know, the Institute.”

Note to self: when doing this again handcuff the case to the LEFT hand. My wife had her purse on her right shoulder, which now could not be removed; she couldn’t close her door by herself or fasten her seat belt properly.

The Institute was not very far away and we arrived easily 10 minutes early. We drove a few blocks away to allow the scene to be set. Our Stage Five contact, as we arrived, was seen, apparently dead (with great makeup) on the grass. Clutched in her hand was a blood-stained note. After we pried it from her hands we determined that it contained GPS coordinates in Spanish.

My wife translated the numbers (with a little help from me) and I put them into the GPS I had conveniently brought with us. Actually I had input the coordinates previously to save time. Here again, note to self: Go to the actual location sometime earlier and get the EXACT coordinates instead of trusting that the internet website is right, then try them at least once.

I had started our car and faced it towards the exit of the parking lot so that my wife would not see our Stage Five “dead” contact get up and run to her car to join her husband. At this point I announced to my wife that we were being followed. We drove away from the parking lot with the intent to “lose them” in a nearby parking garage. Unfortunately I went the wrong way and the chase car got stuck at the light. Since they knew where we were going they actually beat us there, but, not seeing us, proceed to the final location at Stage Seven.

Upon arriving at Stage Six, we, of course, were supposed to be unaware that we were no longer being followed and made our tire screeching trip to the top of the parking garage and back down again. This did have the added advantage of helping the GPS to get a good satellite fix.

On the way to Stage Seven, the GPS coordinates were not exact so I drove into the Applebee’s parking lot anyway. Our final contact was there dressed similar to me. He asked if my wife had something for him and she said it was locked in the case. He told her that the combination was a very important date for us. It was the combination in two digit month, day and year of our anniversary.

My wife opened the briefcase and handed him the sealed envelope. After opening it, he handed back a note which said, “Enjoy your anniversary dinner at Applebee’s.” The envelope also contained cash to pay for dinner, a key to the handcuffs and a note that said, “You already have a key to my heart. Here is the key to the handcuffs.”

At that point my wife and I went inside and enjoyed a delicious anniversary meal.

I put on my Facebook page that 31 years ago I made the best decision of my life and married my sweetheart. I’ve never regretted that decision.

Happy anniversary to us,


Monday, April 4, 2011

You Can't be too Careful

My wife and I are avid garage sale aficionados. She says that she decided this week that we qualify as professional garage salers. While this means we find many treasures hidden amongst the piles of leftovers, this also means that we have to store those many treasures somewhere. With that problem we periodically have garage sales of our own to attempt to unclutter our home. Lately we have also begun selling things on the internet, mainly through Craigslist.

Craigslist provides a free venue to post descriptions and pictures of items we want to sell in a local market. Did I mention it’s free? We have had some success selling things in this manner. My latest attempt is to sell a large monitor for a Mac computer, back and middle seats to a Chrysler Voyager van and a very new motorized wheelchair.

I posted descriptions and pictures of each item and shortly emails began arriving asking if each was still available. In an attempt to be fair to all, I answer emails in the order they arrive. For future reference I will mass email all and give more detailed contact information then sell on a first come first serve basis.

The wheelchair was the most expensive item. Quickly I received an inquiry regarding it. After replying I received another email requesting more information, then another requesting additional pictures. Soon the potential buyer wanted information for a shipping company he contacted to ship the item. I don’t offer shipping, normally. It was exciting anticipating such a sale.

Soon I got an email from Paypal stating a payment had arrived. That’s when things got weird. The email stated that since a third party carrier was involved in the shipping, the funds would not be released until they had notification of payment of over $300 to the carrier. That’s also when the bells began ringing. Scam alert! I emailed the buyer to let him know that I would not fall for this scam and that I was forwarding copies of all the emails to Paypal Security. Amazingly enough, I know, but I have not heard any more from buyer or carrier. The sad part is that if he had perpetrated the scam smarter I would have shipped the wheelchair (on his nickel) to him and would not have received a valid payment. Now, however, I’m another day older and another day smarter, hopefully, and will avoid potential scammers in the future.

Stay strong. Stay aware,


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I’ve always loved to hike in the wild. Unfortunately, the wild has usually been far from where I live. My preferred path would be no trail or, perhaps, a rabbit trail. Where the foliage does not allow simple cross country ambulation I defer to the beaten path. In the city, usually grass is preferable to the street.

While walking, I watch the ground for signs (animal tracks and such for you city folks), interesting rocks, plants and whatever else catches my eye or stirs my imagination. I tracked a deer through a twisting turning maze of honeysuckle one year. As a youngster I came across a horned toad skull. It looked for all the world like a miniature buffalo skull. In Kentucky I scouted for morel mushrooms that are prized by all fungi collectors.

City walking, while there is occasional nature to be seen, usually results in finding mostly man-made treasures in the road. If you want to collect aluminum cans for about a nickel a piece there is a limitless supply. When I walk the roads I pick up the more solid items that could puncture a tire. I collect the nails, screws and bolts that lay strewn along the road. Occasionally I drop them down the water meter key holes, but usually throw them away at home. The largest item I picked up was a six foot piece of rebar.

This week as my wife and I were walking I noticed a small shiny card on the road that turned out to be a driver’s license. Though the address was on the card, I couldn’t find a phone number online or in the phone book. In this modern age of technology, however, I did find the girl listed on Facebook and sent her a message. We even had a mutual FB friend.

When the mother picked up the license she told me that her daughter left her wallet and car keys in the car, unlocked, apparently. Someone stole the car and wrecked it. They probably emptied the wallet of anything valuable and threw it away, or at least the driver’s license. The license might have been useful except it was a provisional license for a minor and expires in a few more months.

I’ve learned from all this. If you need a piece of rebar, go for a walk. Lock your car. Take your keys. Hide your valuables. Oh, wait. That last bit is from the sign at the mall, but I guess it’s still sound advice.

I wonder what I’ll find today,


Friday, July 16, 2010


At first glance you might think this blog is about some obscure Chinese or Mayan word. Now, really. A Mayan word would start with Dz and probably not end with the "g". Those in the know are aware that the term "Dx" stands for long distance as it applies to ham radio. With a good ham radio capable of operating on frequencies between around 2Mhz to 10Mhz, a licensed operator can make contacts hundreds and thousands of miles away.

Ham radio equipment is not cheap and usually isn't space convenient. Like hospitals and government, a ham shack is usually continually expanding. You generally start with a radio and an antenna. The radio usually needs a separate power supply. Most antennas aren't perfectly adaptable to changing frequencies and an antenna tuner is needed to make the antenna work well. Since operators like to know how much power they are generating they have a separate power meter or one incorporated into the antenna tuner. When hams (a licensed ham radio operator) notice how little power their meter shows they are transmitting, they decide to add a linear amplifier. A linear amplifier increases their signal output from usually about 100 watts up to 1000 watts or more, even though the Federal Communications Commission has rules limiting the output on certain frequencies to much less than 1000 watts.

Hams are always looking for ways to make their antennas higher, longer, thicker, thinner, more directional, more omni-directional and generally more functional. These endeavors lead to greater output...from their wallets and more input from their wives and neighbors. Contrary to the rumors, a properly tuned rig (combination of all ham radio equipment) should not interfere with neighbor's tv reception.

The number of radios in the shack magically multiply. The Dx equipment, for HF (high frequency) radio, is overkill for local communications. Ham operators usually accumulate a variety of radios that include VHF equipment for local to medium range and often UHF equipment for very local communications. Radios range from large base units to mobile units that fit in a vehicle to hand held (HT or handie talkie) units that can be clipped to a belt.

The most important requirement of a ham radio system is the most logical one. You must have someone, somewhere to talk to you. It's not much fun having half of a tin can telephone. It gets really boring really fast. Add the second person component and hams will talk endlessly about to others describing their rig in detail, then letting the other person describe their equipment and layout.

Personnally I prefer to use a radio similar to a telephone. I like to talk to family, friends and others about topics I would discuss over the phone. Why not use a phone, some would ask. When emergencies arise and power is out, hams are usually the voices that are heard through the airwaves coordinating rescue efforts. That standard answer aside, it's just cool to talk over equipment that is not taxed, charged by the minute or impeded in general by someone else.

Currently only one member of my family has a license, Lonehawk. He and I attempted a few times to connect. When we finally established communication, it worked better than we thought it would. Granted, we had to wait till 11pm CDT to do it, but there is something calming about hearing the familiar voice in the darkness that you know is hundreds of miles away. True, the call usually starts out, "I can hear you. Can you hear me?" but the sense of accomplishment makes it all worthwhile. The world isn't quite as large as it once was and at least one conversation less lonesome.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twi Dilemna: Edward vs. Jacob

Stop by any conglomeration of two or more females these days and you will likely hear a heated debate in progress: Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. If you have never read any of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, then you will most assuredly be in the dark about the discussion.

Suffice it to say that Jacob, a teen werewolf (Hmm, I think that’s actually been done before. Anyone ever heard of Michael J. Fox?) and Edward, an immortal, vampire teen, are the heartthrobs of every reader possessing ovaries. Forget the fact that both were always considered monsters throughout history that slaughtered mortals in a very bloody manner. We are to forget that a snake is a snake and accept that both these individuals are different from what we have learned. In fact, we are supposed to accept that they are different from others of their kind in the series.

Edward, who can hear every thought of every person except, of course, his mortal girlfriend, is evidently the perfect man, the perfect boyfriend. I tell all my guy friends who have not read the Twilight series that if they want to understand how the female mind works they need to read these books. I’m not saying that women understand men, but that they think Edward and Jacob are nearly perfect.

I read the series, plus another book by Stephanie Meyer called The Host. I enjoyed that book as much as, if not more than, the Twilight books. I’m definitely a Stephanie Meyer fan and will read other books she writes, but let me just state for the record that I am not for Team Edward or Team Jacob. They, along with Bell, are both neurotic and exhibit the normally female self-destructive behavior.
Make no doubt about it. With her looks, talent, strength and she can see the future, I am 100% aboard for Team Alice