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,


Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm a Survivor

I’m a Survivor

I’ve been a fan of the Survivor TV show for years. I missed the very first season as I thought it would be another “Big Brother” or some such reality show. I didn’t realize how awesome the show was that season. I guess the buzz and hype caught my attention, because I’ve never missed another episode.

Throughout the years we’ve had our favorites in every season, some more memorable than others. We have hated some players, loved planned by the directors, in general. On every season I wonder why the tribe members starve themselves so much instead of spending most of their waking hours looking for food.

I have applied to be on Survivor 3 or 4 times...I lost track. I know the first application was on a VHS tape, while the rest were uploaded videos. I can’t help but think they actually may have called for me, but as I ignore unknown, unidentified incoming phone calls, I may never know.

While preparing for a possible season in Samoa, I studied the local flora and fauna for food sources, including sea plants and fish species. I was vindicated in my research as Rob made fire using a fire saw, the method I determined to be the most effective and easiest to use for Samoa.

Effective January first I began a new career, after a 3 year stretch of retirement from a prior employer. When I next retire, I’ll draw on 2 retirement systems and, if it’s still around, the Social Security system. While I won’t make a million dollars using any combination of my income, I will have a steady income which will prepare me financially for the rest of my life...exactly what I had hoped for on Survivor.

I won’t have time again to take off the required 6 weeks to be on Survivor again, so I won’t be applying again, sorry, Jeff. I think I would have been an awesome player. I think I would have been one of the few to gain weight on the Survivor diet, but I guess it was not meant to be.

Um, Jeff, only kidding. Feel free to call me anytime. I’ll work something out with the boss...


Friday, August 5, 2011

Timely Poem

Found this and thought I'd pass it on as very appropriate these days,


Ode to Texas

The devil wanted a place on earth
Sort of a summer home
A place to spend his vacation
Whenever he wanted to roam.
So he picked out Texas
A place both wretched and rough
Where the climate was to his liking
And the cowboys hardened and tough.
He dried up the streams in the canyons
And ordered no rain to fall
He dried up the lakes in the valleys
Then baked and scorched it all.
Then over his barren country
He transplanted shrubs from hell.
The cactus, thistle and prickly pear
The climate suited them well.
Now the home was much to his liking
But animal life, he had none.
So he created crawling creatures
That all mankind would shun.
First he made the rattlesnake
With it's forked poisonous tongue.
Taught it to strike and rattle
And how to swallow it's young.
Then he made scorpions and lizards
And the ugly old horned toad.
He placed spiders of every description
Under rocks by the side of the road.
Then he ordered the sun to shine hotter,
Hotter and hotter still.
Until even the cactus wilted
And the old horned lizard took ill.
Then he gazed on his earthly kingdom
As any creator would
He chuckled a little up his sleeve
And admitted that it was good.
‘Twas summer now and Satan lay
By a prickly pear to rest.
The sweat rolled off his swarthy brow
So he took off his coat and vest.
"By Golly," he finally panted,
"I did my job too well,
I'm going back to where I came from,
Texas is hotter than Hell."

- Author unknown

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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,


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guy Stuff

Ok, so first off, I apologize to all you women who do your own mechanic work. In fact, I don't really need to apologize. You know who you are and you know you are better mechanics than I am.

Rather than pay $100 to change the radiator fluid on my little truck, I did it myself. It was less traumatic than my usual car repairs. I usually cut my fingers, get some strange fluid in my face or eyes, and spend hours on something the mechanic could do in mere minutes. I sometimes buy or replace the wrong part.

This time things went well, until I noticed the smell of radiator fluid and noticed big spots on the driveway. I was about to add more fluid, thinking it should be low, then I got smart, or luck, and decided to see where the fluid was leaking. I quickly found a leak on the large hose, bought a new one and replaced it. wasn’t quite that easy, but fairly so.

As I examined the old hose I found out why it was leaking. As you can see in the picture, there is a large abrasion on the side of the hose. That is what happens when you hose comes in contact with the pulley situated too closely to the radiator. I got creative with the hose, a shield and some wire and I think that the pulley won’t be an issue in the future.

Once again, all you knowledgeable mechanics keep your opinions to yourself about such McGyvering...unless that repair will lead to some catastrophic meltdown of my engine.

On the road once again. Oh, by the way, I replaced the power jack for my laptop so it’s on the road again, too, more or less.


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,