Sad News

Albert self-portraitA while back I had written in this blog about the experience of my son’s lung transplant. I don’t much feel like writing this post, but in the interest of following up the story, I am.
Albert lost his 35-year battle against Cystic Fibrosis this past week. He passed away in Pittsburgh at the same hospital he had received his new lungs in.
He had been in the hospital for nearly the past six months. Problems with lung infections caused the new lungs to present rejection symptoms. The cocktail of drugs being used to fight both the infections and the rejection took their toll on his kidneys and he experienced kidney failure. Eventually, they reached the point where if they treated the infection aggressively, they would lose the battle against rejection and if they treated for the rejection, the infection would get worse.
His brother and I visited him and were on the way there again when the news arrived. He had refused a ventilator and accepted his end with courage and grace.
He told his brother, Frank, who is also a CF patient and currently undergoing transplant approval, that the transplant was worth it and he was glad for the extra time it gave him. He had the transplant three years ago.
Please remember Albert in your thoughts. Should you wish, a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in his name would be appreciated.

His cartoon web page has been updated as a memorial site. You can see it here.

Many friends have left touching notes at his Facebook page as well.

Cell phone accessories

Blueant T1I hate cell phone accessories. Even more than cell phones.

Cell phones have become a fact of life, though. A necessity that we can’t live without. So we pile on features to make us think we like them. My phone is a camera, a web browser, an email client, a personal assistant, a toy and lastly, a phone.

The funny thing is, it’s not very good at any of those things…

I just ordered a bluetooth earpiece. You’ve got to have one or risk a ticket in your car if the phone rings. I don’t talk much while I drive, but it is safer than even the corded earpieces on the rare occasion that I do. Continue Reading…

Veterans Day

Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
Winston Churchill

I’m listening to a favorite local band of mine – Kilbrannan. They disbanded several years ago, going on to form two other bands, but that’s neither here ‘nor there. I know quite a few fans, though, that still miss their shows.

They were one of two local bands (Jackdaw, the other) that fed off my fascination with British Folk/Rock, such as Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention, and made me a fan of live Scottish/Irish music melded with Rock.

The driving force in the band was Kirk McWhorter, whose knowledge of traditional and contemporary Scottish tunes as well as his own songwriting skill, still impresses me.

So what has this got to do with Veterans Day, you might ask. If it isn’t already playing, play the song in the player at the top of this post. It’s a Kilbrannan song called A Simple Man. It’s the story of a young man who goes off to war, following “Bonnie Prince Charlie” in the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It was an unsuccessful attempt to claim the British Throne and, predictably, ended disastrously for those fighting in it, including the farmer’s Son of the song. Yet, it became, as these stories do, the stuff of songs and is remembered that way.

I can’t help but think of our servicemen overseas when I hear it. Continue Reading…

7 Band Dipole Continued

Today I finally got around to working on the 7 Band Portable Dipole I wrote about earlier. I had finished building it, but hadn’t tried it out or even seen if it works.

One thing that delayed me was my MFJ-259B antenna analyzer was in pieces. A couple years ago, I dropped it on the floor. It landed face-down and smashed the tuning knob. In the process, it bent the shaft of the tuning capacitor and made it stick and short out as it turned. I ordered a replacement from MFJ and installed it, but it still had problems. It acted flakey. It turned out, although it looked fine upon inspection, the range switch was also damaged and was working intermittently. It sat on the shelf for a couple of years while I decided what to do with it. The antenna project made up my mind to look at it again.MFJ-259B All fixed!

I was dreading tearing into a multi-position rotary switch. I had visions of parts and wires hanging off every terminal. Fortunately, it was a PC-mount switch and every connection went through the PC board. If I could only get it off the PC board without destroying anything, I could replace it. So I carefully disassembled the ‘259 far enough to access the back of the switch. With some care to carefully desolder each pin and a little wiggling, the switch came out. I ordered one from MFJ, along with some of the plastic parts to the push buttons that had also flown off and been lost in the fall. Continue Reading…

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