Antenna Guru

RF is not 'black magic' – It's Synthesis, Optimization, Analysis and Realization.

Monthly Archives: August 2012

New Workstation

Business is on the uptick this month. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that my old computer takes all night to solve big simulation problems (and I haven’t maxed out the software yet =-o) but I don’t have enough all nighters for the number of project deadlines coming at me. So, I went ahead and ordered:

WORKSTATION PC

  • COOLER MASTER, HAF 932 Advanced (RC-932-KKN5-GP) Black Tower Case w/ Window, EATX, 7 slots, No PSU, Steel
  • COOLER MASTER, Silent Pro M 850W Power Supply w/ Modular Cables, 80 PLUS® Bronze, ATX12V 2.3 EPS12V 2.92, 6x 8/6-pin PCIe, SLI® Certified, Retail
  • ASUS, P9X79 WS, LGA2011, Intel® X79, DDR3-2400 (O.C.) 64GB /8, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2+4*, SATA 6Gb/s RAID 5 /4, 3Gb/s /4, USB 3.0 /4, HDA, GbLAN /2, FW, SSI CEB, Retail
  • INTEL, Core i7-3930K Six-Core, 3.2 – 3.8GHz TB, LGA2011, 12MB L3 Cache, HT EM64T EIST VT XD, 32nm, 130W, Retail
  • COOLER MASTER, Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler, Socket 2011/1155/1156/1366/775/AM3/AM2, Copper/Aluminum, Retail
  • CORSAIR, 16GB (4 x 4GB) Vengeance™ LP Blue PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL9 (9-9-9-24) 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
  • EVGA, GeForce® GTX 560 (KR) 810MHz, 1GB GDDR5 4008MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, 2x DVI + mini-HDMI, Retail
  • SEAGATE, 1TB Barracuda®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200RPM,64MB cache
  • RAID, No RAID, Independent HDD Drives
  • SONY, AD-7280S Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner, SATA, OEM
  • MICROSOFT, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM

That’s a lot of stuff. My plan is to transfer all my big, power hungry design software onto this workstation and access it remotely via my laptop.

Funny thing (now that I’m free of it), I remember how it would have been impossible to upgrade my computer because of increased business at my former employer’s: We were authorized to waste money but not to spend money…

Really, it’s about balance: Now that I can fabricate prototypes quickly, I need to be able to design them more quickly. So, the next logical step will be a CNC mill, I suppose? H-m-m-m-m…

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Gödel

Kurt Gödel (Wikipedia)

It’s easier to disregard someone when you leave them out. It’s easier to disregard ideas when we don’t think about them. We sometimes do this when faced with inconsistency don’t we?

Haven’t we learned that consistency is absolutely necessary in order to be logical?

To be logical is to be reasonable… Isn’t it therefore unreasonable to be inconsistent?

Although I am not a professional mathematician, I use mathematical concepts daily. Most of us think that mathematics is the epitome of logical thinking. Most of us would think that arithmetic –the “oldest and most elementary” kind of mathematics there is– has to be self-consistent, but this only turns out to be true so long as you assume arithmetic is self-consistent but don’t try to prove its self-consistency using arithmetical statements.

Officially,

[In] any consistent effective formal system that includes enough of the theory of the natural numbers …there are true statements expressible in its language that are unprovable.

Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem

But hang on a second, this is a theorem saying it is mathematically true that there are mathematically true statements that cannot be proven (or disproven) true mathematically!

Doesn’t that wreck mathematics?

Left Out

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand.

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might be wondering, “What does Ralph Waldo Emerson have to do with either Ayn Rand or prepping?”

I Googled +Ayn +Rand +Ralph +Waldo +Emerson and found this quote:

[Some People] might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson.

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/emerson.html

The word, ‘foolish’ is left out, as is the end of the sentence, “… adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Without that word, foolish, the quote fragment sounds as if it could have come from some spoiled teenage ditz’s reference to her hair-do.

This is similar to another problem I keep having: When I read Atlas Shrugged, I don’t find myself. A character like me is just not there, so I feel left out.

It is far easier to disagree with someone’s ideas if you leave out some of their words.

What might RWE have been thinking when he wrote those words? How about party politics? How about a philosophy that says in essence, “If I can’t take a picture of it then it isn’t real?” Maybe he was speaking against religious fundamentalism?

Maybe RWE was simply saying we should say what we honestly think & feel and if in the future our thoughts & feelings change, we should own that change.

Self Reliance

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. …

English: Daguerreotype of Ralph Waldo Emerson,...

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Courtesy of the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.— ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ —Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ayn Rand contributed Objectivism to society. I see it as a nice counterpoise to Emerson’s philosophy (Transcendentalism). Atlas Shrugged is similarly counterpoised to prepping, perhaps. I am thankful for the space created by the tension of things set in opposition, the fabric, pegs and pole of a big circus tent where we all get to participate.

Having a sort of anti-realist point of view as I do, it is hard has become impossible for me to insist on matters of fact; I certainly have my own, and you probably have your own, but I don’t expect you to share all of mine nor vice versa. Gridlock ensues when we insist on our personal facts of the matter.

WtSHtF

Pilgrims – The first preppers of the New World (image from Wikipedia)

Survivalism is actually a time honored Armerican tradition that predates even Thanksgiving. Here are some examples of which I am aware…

The Pilgrims brought Calvinism, with theological doctrine of predestination with total depravity and codified morality while stealing “borrowing” corn from their reluctant Indian neighbors.

Shakers were convinced that sex was evil, which left an awful lot of energy for building ladder-back chairs. But they also are credited with the circular sawBabbitt bearings, and perhaps the clothespin.

The Amish have successfully avoided paying Social Security tax and are thus exempt from Obamacare.

The Oneida Community had some interesting ideas relating to GILF‘s…

Mormons have encouraged the equating of religious faith to ‘talking into one’s hat‘.

My uncle had a fallout shelter in his basement, and he solemnly invited my father, mother and us kids over to view it. We were supposed to keep it a family secret, so we wouldn’t be overrun by desperadoes when that terrible day came. I saw it as a more sophisticated, but equivalently futile, version of “duck and cover,” but I never told my parents.

Along with the Cold War Survivalists, the hippies were the only other secular group of opt-outers  I could think of. The cooks at my college fraternity lived in a yurt and fried their brains on acid (or so it seemed to me – they let their baby boy, Loma, crawl around on the floor and squat in the kitchen without any diapers). They all eventually surpassed thirty and were forced to lose trust in themselves.

The Branch Davidian debacle, still controversial, was a likely stimulus for Oklahoma City.

Finally, there is Ayn Rand’s fictional bug-out found in the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

Strike!

Stanisław Lentz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?”

–Ayn Rand

I grew up near Delaware County, New York, learning about the Anti-rent War of 1839 to 1852. The anti-rent war was definitely about makers vs. takers. Here is Howard Zinn‘s description:

When a deputy arrived in the farming area [of the Catskills] with writs demanding the rent, farmers suddenly appeared, assembled by the blowing of tin horns. They seized his writs and burned them. That December, a sheriff and a mounted posse of five hundred rode into the farm country, but found themselves in the midst of shrieking tin horns, eighteen hundred farmers blocking their path, six hundred more blocking their rear, all mounted, armed with pitchforks and clubs. The sheriff and his posse turned back, the rear guard parting to let them through. This was the start of the Anti-Renter movement in the Hudson Valley, described by Henry Christman in Tin Horns and Calico. It was a protest against the patroonship system, which went back to the 1600s when the Dutch ruled New York, a system where (as Christman describes it) “a few families, intricately intermarried, controlled the destinies of three hundred thousand people and ruled in almost kingly splendor near two million acres of land.” … Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs trying to serve writs on farmers were surrounded by calico-clad riders who had been summoned by tin horns sounding in the countryside-then tarred and feathered. The New York Herald, once sympathetic, now deplored “the insurrectionary spirit of the mountaineers.”

English: A poster supporting the Anti-Rent Mov...

English: A poster supporting the Anti-Rent Movement, aimed to end the patroon system in Rensselaer County, New York, United States, set to take place in the town of Nassau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a deputy sheriff tried to sell the livestock of a farmer named Moses Earle, who owed $60 rent on 160 stony acres, there was a fight, and the deputy was killed. Similar attempts to sell livestock for rent payments were thwarted, again and again. The governor sent three hundred troops in, declaring a state of rebellion existed, and soon almost a hundred Anti-Renters were in jail. Smith Boughton, a country doctor on horseback,  was brought to trial. He was charged with taking papers from a sheriff but declared by the judge to have in fact committed “high treason, rebellion against your government, and armed insurrection” and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The power of the law thus crushed the Anti-Rent movement. It was intended to make clear that farmers could not win by fighting-that they must confine their efforts to voting, to acceptable methods of reform. In 1845, the Anti-Renters elected fourteen members to the state legislature. Governor Silas Wright now commuted to life imprisonment the two death sentences and asked the legislature to give relief to the tenants, to end the feudal system in the Hudson Valley. Proposals to break up the huge estates on the death of the owners were defeated, but the legislature voted to make illegal the selling of tenant property for nonpayment of rent. A constitutional convention that year outlawed new feudal leases.

The farmers had fought, been crushed by the law, their struggle diverted into voting, and the system stabilized by enlarging the class of small landowners, leaving the basic structure of rich and poor intact. It was a common sequence in American history.

I, as a “creative mind”, have gone “on strike” against corporate wrongdoing. Without going into details, I can assure you that the injustice I fought against ultimately subsided, but at a huge personal and professional cost. When you “go on strike” in the real world, you don’t get to just disappear; you get more visible, become easily targeted, your bills continue and the stresses on your family escalate. So, I somewhat agree with Ms. Rand’s “Sanction of the Victim” argument. But I would instead re-cast the argument to read, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Atlas Compelled

Not a happy camper… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Atlas, according to the story, was compelled to shoulder his celestial burden, because he and his fellow Titans were overthrown by younger gods. Enduring as he might have been, Atlas lost the Olympian fight and was forced to hold up the cosmos by Zeus, the chief god of the younger generation. Ouch, that must have hurt!

So whether it is or whether it is not a good idea for society’s most productive citizens [to] refuse to be exploited, choosing Atlas as the poster boy may have been a bit of a slip.

Atlas: true mythology

Italiano: Statua romana di Atlante (sec II d.C...

Italiano: Statua romana di Atlante (sec II d.C.). Già nella Collezione Farnese, oggi al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the power of myth is metaphor, let us invest a few minutes in the metaphor that the Atlas myth was intended to make. Refer to this Wikipedia article

Classical art shows Atlas holding the celestial spheres, not a globe

Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up Uranus (the Sky) on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace.

Atlas Shrugged? Really?

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Sunday morning I try to write something down about what happened to me during the previous week. This past week what has been most interesting to me (personally) is that my struggling business endeavor has found a measure of success. But two other events occurred that, taken together, have persuaded me to forego discussing my personal happiness and attempt to present my philosophical perspective on current events.

This will take some time, because I don’t want to “shoot from the lip” –probably the rest of August– and I may take the time to post mid-week updates.

Thanks for being patient with me.

Making … Progress

Does society need individuals with equivalent skills in theory and implementation?

I believe so, yes!

Slowly, slowly, making progress. 

In the old days most little towns had a blacksmith, sort of like most little towns today have a “Gas-n-Go.” Where are they all going? Out of town to get the things they need. But personal transportation wasn’t well developed in the old days, so the things one needed had to be brought closer to hand. I am not wistful for the small-town of old, except that I have always been attracted to the old-time blacksmith as an archetype. (“Competencies: Physical strength, conceptualization,” says Wikipedia.)

Have you ever felt energized visiting a museum replica of a blacksmith’s or carpenter’s shop?  I have; I even tried cabinetwork years ago… it didn’t stimulate my mind enough, so it rebelled. Eventually I drifted into electrical engineering and graduate school. At my first (and only) job after graduate school I would grow frustrated waiting for all the “high priority” (= “supporting current production”) jobs to get built on schedule while my “R&D” (= “future of the company”) jobs languished or were piecemealed. Fortunately, the two machinists that worked in the shop, Scooter and Scott, were sympathetic and let me use equipment that would otherwise have sat idle. They treated me as their apprentice, and I tried to give them back as good as they gave, for example helping go between them and some of the less than sympathetic engineers who didn’t understand the reality of tolerance.

This experience really empowered  practical creativity, because I could make a little widget to try out a theoretical idea.  This made improving even the larger systems faster because I could give my boss concrete evidence that my ideas might work. Some did and some didn’t, but many new ideas and improvements to old ones flowed freely from my mind to my hands and on to production.

Then I got promoted.

Actually, it was more complicated than that. The dot-com bubble popped in 2001 and my employer was forced to reduced staff commensurately. The facility where I worked was closed and the property was sold off. I was offered the choice of a transfer and a big raise or to hit the bricks.

I chose the raise.

But the cost was that I had to forego turning cranks in the shop. The new place’s shop was bigger and faster-paced. The superintendent didn’t like the idea of a “guest machinist.” Gradually, I found my professional responsibilities shifting more to conference calls and giving advice, with less time spent tinkering.

That’s over now. I am starting to right myself. Today I have three customers– I am developing a special antenna of one. I am available to discuss resonant lines on a will-call basis for another. The third customer pays me a fixed retainer and asks me to help out however and wherever I am able. I really love working for the third customer, but I actually get to make things for all of them. It is up to me to decide how best to serve their individual needs.

Is it even a good idea to be equally devoted to theoretical understanding and practical know-how? Or is the cautionary phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none” more sensible? For me, it was never really a choice so much as a compulsion to hang out in the shared space between the two. Slowly, slowly, I am finding people whose projects need equal parts theory and practice.  Designer and builder. Making headway.

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