Category Archives: Family Stuff

General-interest stuff about our family

Homebrew Antenna Analyzer (part 1)

In the ham radio community, homebrewing is a term used to describe making your own radio gear.  For most hams, this doesn’t go much beyond building and tuning an antenna out of copper pipe or wire, but I’m not really your average ham.  For one, I am almost never on the air.  That said, as I’ve spent more time recently reconnecting with my roots as an Electrical Engineer, I’ve opted to use my license as an excuse to play around with ideas.

In the process of building my last project (the sunrise light http://www.diligent5.org/?p=1849) I bought an Arduino Uno … Read the rest

Geeking out part two

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a project I’ve been working on that uses a raspberry pi to mimic a sunrise as a sort of alternative to an alarm clock (https://www.diligent5.org/?p=1849) .  It’s generated a rather long list of learning experiences including things like the timing issues I wrote about previously.  After thinking about it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to document a few of them.

First, debouncing switches can be easy or hard…  If you’re as dumb as me and want to set the system up to discriminate between long button presses, short button presses, and … Read the rest

Quiet compassion

This fourth of July we were invited for a second year in a row to go with friends to their family reunion at the family’s farm/ranch outside Grants, New Mexico.  I have to say that this family represents the kind of accepting and down right Christian people I think the world needs more of.  Let me explain.

Many years ago, when the patriarch and matriarch were young veterinarians just out of school, they landed in this small town west of Albuquerque and set up shop – the husband dealing with large animals, and the wife handling the small ones.  As … Read the rest

Family vacation

My family didn’t take a lot of what some would consider vacations when I was a kid. An annual trip camping for a few days in the nearby mountains was about all we managed most years.  There were also times when we packed up to go somewhere more exotic like a national park, or to visit relatives far away. Among the memories of these trips I have shadows of memories where my parents were stressing about them — both before and during.  I sometimes think a lot of the stress was financial, but the root cause is somewhat immaterial.  The … Read the rest

Geeking Out

Since we moved back into a city and left behind a mostly rural life I’ve had to adjust my hobbies to the new environment.  I don’t spend much time planting fence posts, the only animal I take care of now is an old and grouchy dog, I don’t have old or worn out farm equipment to rebuild or repair, can mow my lawn with a weed whacker, and couldn’t fit a car in the garage to work on it if I had to.  This has been a hard transition, but it has given me an excuse to reengage with several … Read the rest

Camping with the boys

Isaac was preparing for a campout with the young men from church a couple of weeks ago when Michael asked when I could take him camping.  The weather has been mostly cooperating, so I told him we’d go in two weeks if the weather cooperated.  Two weeks went by and the weather was fine, so we packed up the truck and headed to an area just outside the Ojito wilderness.

We found a place just off the road and made a fine camp for the night.  After setting up camp, the boys and the dog explored a deep arroyo nearby … Read the rest

Check your id

Several years ago, I was at a three month professional development course that included intramural sports.  As we went through the first day orientation, the school director took a moment and asked each of us to pull out our IDs.  He then instructed is to look at the birthday printed on the card and ponder our age.  He then told us to repeat this exercise every time we entered the gym and keep that in mind as we competed with each other.  Apparently, students there had a track record of pushing too hard and getting hurt.  This was good advice, … Read the rest

Learning backflips

This year, I crossed the threshold of 40.  I understand that transition to be fairly traumatic for many people, but I must be in denial.  I don’t feel like 40 is much of a big deal.   I do, however, distinctly remember when 16 looked mature, 20 was fully fledged adult, 30 looked middle aged, and 40 was near death.  There didn’t seem to me much space for development between 40 and death.   Life and experience have taught me how warped my perspective was back then.

One thing I have loved about getting older is having kids who are old enough … Read the rest

It’s got to be common

It’s pretty clear to me at an academic level that many of the challenges I deal with on a regular basis are near universal.  Challenges with teenagers, dissatisfaction with work, being stuck for a season in the spiritual doldrums, health challenges, personal weaknesses, demands on my time that far exceed the time available, profound cognitive dissonance between what I want and the world I am stuck with, and many other challenges are surely common.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t generally make it feel any less lonely, any less troublesome, any less painful, or any less oppressive.   Failure, though common to everyone, is … Read the rest

Sunfounder Raspberry-Pi Camera Car

This Christmas, Isaac asked for a robot car.  We’d talked about giving him opportunities to begin experimenting with programming, and this seemed like a reasonable way to go.  Being the cheap guy I am, I trolled Amazon for the robot car that came with the most features for the least amount of money, knowing full well that it would probably be some cheap Chinese knockoff.  After looking at a wide range of offerings, I decided on a car marketed by Sunfounder knowing the instructions were probably crap, but confident in my ability to make it work without them.

Christmas day, … Read the rest