Antenna Guru

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

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I am retired.

I have corrected my contact information here.

Be well!


You probably don’t have skin cancer

The other day Debi noticed that one of the funny looking wart-like things on my back seemed to be bleeding a bit. I figured I probably didn’t have skin cancer, but that I should get checked out. (I spent many a shirtless summer in hay fields in upstate New York as a youth; something we now know is not a good idea.) The epidemiologist — dressed like a tweedy archaeologist — took a quick look at the object and pronounced it, “seborrheic keratosis.” For prudence’s sake (and Debi’s!) he carved it out of my back and sent it off to the lab.

So on the one hand, I wasted half a morning on something that turned out not to matter. But on the other hand, I bought a kind of insurance policy that I wouldn’t waste years of my future with something that turned out to be melanoma.

If you have a funny mole you probably don’t have skin cancer either. Waste a little of your time, not a lot — get checked.

Back to the Blogosphere

October, a 31 day month, passed in a blur, especially the last three weeks.

We enjoyed some great family time with my wife’s three adult children, including two weekends when  I might normally blog. The course of my profession, which ebbs and flows, definitely has been flowing lately. So it has been a busy time, a joyful time, a thankful time, a profitable time. Now it is time to record some thoughts.

Really interesting documentary that humanized and made me admire both of these great Americans. You can watch it online…

Antenna Guru

I  urge you to watch this special Frontline episode. They do it every four years in October, and it is excellent.

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There oughta be a…

Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal “do-not-call” registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: those annoying prerecorded pitches called robocalls that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home.

So, the way it is supposed to work in this society is that when some sort of noxious behavior gets bad enough, we complain to our lawmakers who, when the lobbying gets strong enough, enact a law. We have such a law against unwanted telemarketing. We also have laws against running red lights, passing on the shoulder, bank fraud, insider trading, …

… but only nice people obey laws, so we have telemarkers, redlight runners, passers on the shoulder, fraudulent bankers, inside traders, … a whole host of human beings who want to get ahead at others’ expense.

One solution is enforcement. Enforcement leads to higher taxes, police brutality, choked court systems and overcrowded prisons.

Another solution is vigilantism. Except for certain survivialists, e.g., the ones with huge stocks of weapons and ammunition, we moderns take a dim view of that method.

I propose a third solution: Talk up noxious behavior as extremely un-cool.

Ever seen a fellow with one pant leg hiked? He was unwittingly copying somebody who rode a bicycle with street clothes who didn’t want to get chainring grease on his pants. I used to get a kick out of the poseurs who rolled up their left pant leg.

How about people who wear their pants around their thighs, with three pairs of boxers over a pair of briefs? Those guys are mimicking some ‘cool’ person who lives on the street and cannot afford clothes that fit.

I say, why not find that cool homeless person and give them some decently fitting clothes?

I say, those of us who have ‘made it’ need to engage young people in a way that makes them want to emulate us, not some skanky drug dealer. Come on, we’re smart people, can’t we be as engaging as a skanky drug dealer?

I have a friend who combats telemarketers by talking to them. He asks them how their day is going, how many sales they’ve made, talks about his family (no names, of course) and so on… knowing that they don’t like to hang up on people. So, he just keeps them talking and talking, wasting their time, never letting them get to their sales pitch. I like that method.

The other day a door-to-door salesman knocked on my door. I live in a private community with gates and a big sign that reads, “…” Well, you know what it reads. Still they come. So this fellow human rings my doorbell and I answer it. He starts in with some well-rehearsed line to engage me and I change the subject.

He goes back to his line of lingo.

I change the subject.

He goes back to his line of lingo.

I say, “We’re not really listening to each other,” and frown my saddest frown. (Playacting, of course.)

He stops his lingo. I close my door.

Transactional Theology

I liked this post of Taylor Gahm’s:

Maybe check it out.

I am not HIM either

Disclaimer #1: I am a registered Republican.

Disclaimer #2: I am a follower of the way, called Christianity.

Disclaimer #3: I subscribe to the policy, “If you don’t know what to say, keep your mouth shut .”

I have been quietly enduring the snide remarks, the disrespect, and the just plain false allegations for 3½ years now, and that’s only on the political side of life. (On the intellectual side of life –well, let’s just say I have a personal understanding of apologetics.) I have followed the public life of our president and commander-in-chief at least as closely as all of my friends and fellow believers, except that I try very hard to get as close to the source of the news (“the truth”) as I possibly can. Whenever I feel their political statements are factually in error, or when I encounter bad behavior (such as racial prejudice) I try to contravene with as much grace and love as I imagine He did.

So now the season of the presidential election cycle is approaching. The dirty late winter snow of my former stomping ground is actually pleasant compared to this mess. Also, since last Thursday was the first Thursday in February, President Barack Obama, who self-identifies as a Christian, made his fourth appearance as president at the National Prayer Breakfast. He made his obligatory speech. He talked about his faith. He talked about his sociopolitical beliefs. That’s the point of the breakfast, right?

So then along comes the gentleman from Utah, Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon. Sen. Hatch was at the prayer breakfast also (he was literally the guy with a ringing cell phone). And of course, Sen. Hatch is not predisposed to agreeing with President Obama. But then, Sen. Hatch had this to say:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (C-span 2)

In 2008, the president declared that his nomination was the world historical moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.

Oh, really? I try to pay attention, and 2008 was a long time ago, but is that really what then-candidate Obama said? Or was it something more like this:

Candidate Barack Obama (CNN<-YouTube)

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Now at this point, I am sorely tempted to attack Sen. Hatch, and certain other Republican politicians, on the basis of their bogus theologies. That would be wrong. Instead, I want to say that I hope –as a believer– I will have the same courage of my convictions that President Obama has. And I hope I can avoid the kinds of ungracious comments that are being made by the conservative morality-preaching nationalists whose party affiliations I so sadly share. Instead, turning the other cheek, I say to myself, “Lord, let it stop with me.”

Target Practice, cont.

At this point, I am flexible and open to whatever service best serves your company. I just want to solve the problems that lurk in the shared space between physics and craftsmanship. You might need temporary help with projects, you might be willing to license one of my designs, or might want to have me on retainer as an available source for reviewing your in-house designs.

To me there is a world of ideas in a parallel universe. There are ideas there that seem to me like precious metals and stones lying on the ground but the people in that world don’t see their value. I just reach down and pick them up. That’s where my ideas come from. (It’s like California before 1849…)

I’m mobile now. I have guardianship over my deceased wife’s mentally retarded son who went to live in a group home here after her death. To leave him alone after only a few months would have been cruel. He doesn’t adjust well to change. Also, after my wife’s death, God sent another wonderful woman into my life whom I have since married. She was in the beginning stages of a new nursing career in Houston and I wanted to support her vision. She has become established in her career and my stepson has adjusted to not living at home.

Again, it would have been my preference to keep my job… that way I don’t have to do what I am uncomfortable with: promote myself to strangers.

Target Practice

Good Morning,

My name is Mark Ingalls. I am an electrical engineer with 28 years’ experience in RF and microwave design, most recently specializing in antennas. I have been self-employed since separating from Spectrum Control last year.

Some of my clients have hired me to troubleshoot problems with their current antennas. Others have hired me to survey antennas currently on the market that are viable for their application. Every so often I develop a totally new antenna that is then patentable for my client.

To be honest I am an engineer not a salesperson with a smooth delivery. I struggle with being self-employed and marketing my abilities.  But I am contacting you to see if you have need of such services. (To my non-technical friends, I explain what I do this way: I am a sharpshooter who targets antenna problems.)

I worked for Spectrum Control for 12 years. Seven of those years were “on location” in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The last five years I worked remotely from Houston. My wife had terminal cancer and wished to come back to Houston to be near her family. Some things are more important than a career and this was one of them. I gave Spectrum six weeks notice to find my replacement. Five weeks into the notice, they came to me and said something like, “You keep solving our problems and we’ll keep depositing your checks.” It worked beautifully, given the situation. We utilized conference calls, emails, telephone calls and helped keep Fedex in business.

After my wife died, Spectrum wanted me to relocate back to Pennsylvania but my life was here in Houston so I declined. We continued for several months and then Spectrum merged with API Technologies. I think it must have come into play somehow… it might have been hard to explain why they had a lone employee hanging out in Texas. So, Spectrum gave me a generous severance package and we went our separate ways. I am sure if I would relocate to Pennsylvania and they had an opening for an antenna engineer, they would employ me again.

Apocalypse of Reason

Methane Time Bomb in Arctic Seas – Apocalypse Not –

I believe that anyone who has received a diploma in any science-related field has a moral responsibility to “tell it like it is” to the rest of humanity. I think it is important to speak out against all the shrill politicizers and polemicists, from all fringes of the issues.

Heated debate is far more fearsome than global warming. Come, let us reason together…

Crying in the Wilderness

So they said to him, “Who are you? We need an answer! What do you have to say for yourself?”

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