Coping: Recycling, Screwdrivers, and Airplanes

imageThis is really a column about how when stars align, nothing can go wrong.

But is also a tale of house-hunting, aging, recycling, screwdrivers…and that old Beechcraft that we fly around the country when the mood (and schedule, and weather, and finances, and interest) strikes us.

The best way to lay this out is chronologically, I suppose.

A few weeks back, for one of those (weird, just felt a sense I needed to) reasons, I hopped on Amazon and bought a new screwdriver set for the electronics bench here in the hallowed halls of Urban.

This is the strange part:  I had absolutely not clue one about why I felts compelled to order it. By the way, should the compunction strike you, what I ordered was $30-bucks worth of Performance Tool (W1726) 26-Piece Screwdriver Set with Rack.  It’s not like I spent a zillion dollars on it.

imageWhat was interesting about the set (and it’s not a high-end deal, as you should figure from the price) is that it came with an assortment of tiny Torx-like tips.  Here’s a picture of what the tip looks like… as viewed through my magnifying work light on the bench…

The set looks OK and truth is, I bought it because in our home, screwdriver sets wander off all the time.  We must have several of them around, all different makers and so on.

As I was sitting looking at the newly sorted out set, I found myself asking “Am I crazy?  Well, OK, still, what am I going to do with this tiny TORX head?  never seen them on anything electronic…”

Now let’s fast-forward to my biennial flight review:  The GPS on the passenger side decided to blip out.  It kept on rebooting….and rebooting….and so on.  So I simply pulled the plug killing power to it and kept on aviating.  No biggie.

But then I got deeply into “How am I going to fix this thing? “ 

It was acting like a stuck keyboard and is used those miserable little chicklet rubber keys that while they may work fine for a while, when you’ve got a 14-year old GPS do fail….

Side note:  When a piece of equipment on an aircraft panel fails – even if it is not required to fly the airplane, you’re supposed to put a sticky-note on it that says NON-OP.

Sometimes we may not get around to that, figuring instead that if the GPS screen is black and it won’t fire up, that most people would figure the unit is “non-op”… but that’s how government works.  No, this was not a primary flight instrument, this is like the third or fourth GPS back-up on the plane.  A Kindle Fire HD with the android software for navigation, and since my phone is android, the software runs on the phone, too.   And that is on top of the high-end I-Fly 740 GPS which is really how we get around…        

Now we’re up to a week ago.

Figuring the GPS in the plane might be saved with a  keyboard transplant, doctor Ure bought a suitable donor unit (a black and white version of the color version of the GPS in our plane that failed) and took it down to the plane this weekend.

Which gets us to Sunday morning.

Elaine and I found a house we both like and we decided to do something about it.  It is far more house than we need, but as 70 is coming down the road, at some point we do want to be closer to the kids (so they can drive down to visit) which isn’t practical when the “drive down to visit part” takes four days if you’re not killing yourself or getting white line fever.

Turns out the house is a dream…another story for another day…but since things were going well – and I mean super-well on the housing front, I decided to go tackle the GPS at the airplane.

Well, turns out that while the keyboard is bad on the plane, the majority of the problem seems to have come from the previous owners putting in 4-double A batteries which had given up the ghost.  So what was happening was that when the external plane power was applied, the power converter down to the equipment onboard 6-volts, was stalling under load (as it should, or it would fry) and THAT was causing the power cycling.

Well, hot damn. 

At this point there is nothing to do but bust open the donor unit, take out the keyboard, swap and we are back in business.

Here comes the fun part:  I mean remember now, everything has been going perfectly all day long…

I look at the backs of the units and what do I see?  Those damn TORX screws.

And therein lies the lesson for this morning:

The next time you get a hunch that you might need a tool, go ahead and buy the damn thing if it’s not too expensive. The odds are good that something will pop up shortly that will require the strange tool that you never thought would occur ever in your lifetime.

I’ve had this happen with other tools I’ve acquired over the years.  For example, I was one of the early adopters of the Rockwell Sonicrafter (F50 Kit with Hyper Lock and Universal Fit System, 34-Piece).

I come from a family of firefighters who all “work the off shift” doing this, that, and home construction.  In all those years growing up, I had never seen a situation where I need a tool that would do the flush-cut down on the floor, like this tool would.  Yet shortly after arriving, we had three occasions (fitting moldings) where it was the only tool that worked.

Somewhere in all this is a fine lesson about listening to our hunches, or how being a tool slut isn’t an all bad thing.

And since my luck was running hot (on real estate searching and GPS fixing) I was smart enough to head to the store and buy some lotto tickets.  You never know – when the luck is running – what else it might rub off on…

New Favorite Song

Does music keep us young?

As you may remember, another of our crackpot theories is that in order to work at peak efficiency, the human brain needs to be fertilized.

And no, that’s not as in the rising orgasm of all that ancient kundalini stuff.  No, I mean fertilized with new ideas AND new music.

This happens to be something I heard in the car this weekend.

Thing is:  It’s new music with elements of rap, traditional rock, and so on.

When I got home, I played it for Elaine…she thought it was terrible.  (Which is why we have his and her playlists on the media server, lol).

I don’t know how it goes in your life, but around here, one of the most interesting long-term discussions is whether music as an art form may have peaked in the 1970’s rock era, or possibly in the 1980’s when the disco scene was evolving, and the new artists like Phil Collins and such were coming along.

No, every age has its music, holds on theory – and to be with the day we need to surf the change as it comes lest we put down time anchors in the past.

Is there a point?  Well, hell yes, there is:

If you ever come across any research that goes into the music tastes of dying people, let me know.  My latest crackpot theory holds that people may age faster if they get stuck in a time (like the disco era) and they put down emotional roots, which in turn, act as time anchors that imply a kind of aging from that point because the rest of us are all moving on.

Now to me, this is a terribly interesting question to ask:  I worry about people who get hung up in things like music from their roots but maybe music is like math:  Once you learn it (as a kid) the basic operations aren’t going to change any…so it is not a time anchor.

Something to notice as you age:  It’s like oldsters who are stuck in the muscle car era…600-horsepower and a Hurst shifter.  Yeah, I would love a 1964 GTO with Tri-Power and red stripe Tiger Paws, too.  But the world has moved on…and it is in how we are moving on with this car addiction that we’ll get into in Peoplenomics on Wednesday.

Now to REAL Brain Food

Go read – if you haven’t already – the article on consciousness creep which is over on Aeon in their Essays here.

The central notion is that the machines we are making (machines as in coded ones, eh?_) could be slowly evolving a kind of consciousness which we may not recognize as conscious.

Way cool read and it gets us on to another favorite topic of discussion around here.  If there a speed of thought?

The reason for asking is pretty simple:  When one looks at the consciousness scale discussed in the article, one can be struck by the fact that it’s almost like the ramp up in (Moore’s Law here) processor speed.

Which is likely something the New Agers got seriously wrong.

When you look at the data, it becomes obvious that consciousness doesn’t go higher or lower.

Something much more obvious:  Fast and slow.

Which is why the dull of wit are so often referred to as slow.  And why the smart people are often quick-witted.

The whole “higher consciousness” thing was a very clever distractions, I will grand you that.  Because it almost  got things right.  Especially the parts about vibration which – if you understand how crystals resonate in electronics – is all about speed setting.

Which is why the smart people are quick and why many are focused on over-clocking themselves.  And yes, that explains our fascination with speed in all its many forms, everything from beating the clock to another triple-shot Americano tall and give me a bottle of Jolt if you have one…

Again, much to noodle on.

Anti-Gravity Project

imageRan out of #26 magnet wire.  Reinforcements will be here this week.  Coil winding will resume shortly thereafter.,

A couple of readers were wondering if the metal lathe was really the right tool for winding, but as you can see here, they look pretty good and according to the Fluke 115, they are 7.7 ohms each as we continue that crackpot exercise.

Even if it fails, by the way, there is a cool ham radio antenna in all this, so not all is wasted and remember our “dual-use / dual-function” approach to life.

Ure’s Monday Axiom:  When Life hands you a lemon, don’t stop at lemonade.  Make some citrus-based degreaser while you’re at it…

Write when you break-even,


16 thoughts on “Coping: Recycling, Screwdrivers, and Airplanes”

  1. Okay . . . so what does your ‘music theory’ say about people who like ‘classical music’?

    And when does music descend into noise?

    My theory is that good music fills one’s ‘soul’ and bad music empties it. Which is why it is so individual, and why one’s tastes are tuned toward recognizing what is good for one’s self . . .

  2. Speed isn’t everything…..

    Sometimes slowing waaayyyy down can speed up the process of going forward by orders of magnitude.

    I’m thinking of brainwaves here. This is an oversimplification of a complex interaction, but Theta and Delta waves are much slower than Beta. The Beta band is your normal waking consciousness — walking, talking, working.

    Diving into Theta (you’ll notice blue or purple on the inner screen of vision with your eyes closed) gives you greater access to a broader ‘range of yourself’. Delta, which really can be accessed in the waking state, not just in the sleep state, becomes like your ‘radar’. Head trauma often produces high amplitude Delta as the brain heals, and accounts for accident victims suddenly becoming psychic after the brain trauma. Also, long-distance driving often results in ‘driving in Delta’. That is what is happening when you pull over for gas and a pee break and can’t remember the last 30 miles! You were not asleep, but the Beta was turned way down, so it is difficult to remember.

    Theta and Delta allow you to acquire information you just can’t access with that amped-up high-speed mindset.

    Those life-changing creative ideas that “come out of the blue” — THETA.

  3. George, check out the group, ” Of Monsters And Men ” they are from Iceland. You know, where they jail banksters! Elaine may even like them.

  4. Torx and Hunches……

    I’m the person who wrote to you years ago about the concept of life/consciousness being a ‘self-referencing, phase-lock loop’.

    The past year or two I have been getting this fuzzy image of ‘life structure’ being layered, or enfolded (not linear). A path between points of the layers connects events like your Torx screwdriver and synchronistic events. In our clock-tick, step-by-step lives, these events come as a surprise.

    I feel like with the right model of reality, synchronicity would become obvious and natural.

    With a linear model these events tend to give people the impression of rigid predestination.

    My sense is that linearity and predestination are perceptual errors. Instead, the Universe is ALIVE and INTERACTIVE ( not dead matter ).

  5. George,

    I read your column from time to time.

    Thinking about a Flat Earth Vs Round Earth, when you are flying, do you see the curvature of the Earth? Can you post some pictures from the wild blue skies, please.

  6. Re music and getting old, I remember seeing a study where they played music of the generation of older folks in a nursing home … since it was music they all heard when growing up, in high school, many of them notably perked up and got more energetic.

    • It’s called “Alive Inside” – documentaty is (or was) on Netflix. The response from the elderly is amazing.

  7. Needed to remove screws from a hand held game controller. very small torx security screws. Yea they exist and so do the tools necessary for removal. Don’t know what it is called but if you need to remove the horn ring on a 1959 chevy impala I have the screw driver for the job. Only used one time. Music ? try Nathaniel Ratcliff & the night-sweats. ( S O B ) -or- Awolnation ( sail ) a little more contemp, 21 pilots ( stressed out ).


  9. I used to personally ,make time lock safes that I designed ,and would use manual timers that you manually wind up for up to 24 hours ,then after the 24 hours was up the manual timer would allow AC or DC contacts to engage / this system mostly used any 12 volt small or large battery to open it , but they have removed these timers from the market ,I think because they can so easily be used for terrorist activity, so they only have the wind up timer that cuts off instead of on,/ and these cut off timers have special torx screws in case ,one would want alter the cut off to cut on./// and about the music of dying people ,that’s a hard one ,in reality ,we are all dying ………….,…..,/ yep we keep learning and lot isn’t in the school books ,but from esoteric knowledge = like thoughts have wings. . . and about smart and dumb people ,the dumb look at the smarter and say ,I wonder if he will figure it out in his life./ have a good day ,,

  10. Thanks for the song.I find myself frequently trapped into thinking new songs aren’t my 60 + age appropriate. Bruno Marrs and songs like this tell me I’m wrong.I need to keep telling myself to just listen…Thanks for sharing,it energized my day!

  11. I read your comment regarding tools not yet needed to DH; he said, “Glues, too.” Has his eye on some UV-triggered epoxy that he just knows he’s going to need!

  12. Bought torx bits a couple of months go, trying to fix a Garmin GPS. Seen them a lot lately.

    Re: Music. Rental cars for long trips and our current vehicle equipped with Sirius, ran through the 70’s, then 80’s, then got bored. I said hell with it and listened to 90’s for a while. Big change, lots of other genres mixed in with the normal “pop” music. Found lots of music I liked and forgot about. 2000’s and much more diverse. Going back to my own mp3’s now, with a special Pandora playlist.

    And BTW, machines can’t evolve a consciousness unless someone programs that feature into it!

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