Coping: Where New Technology Comes From

I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing how the futures gets to us…

Last weekend my son (George II) was off skydiving at Lake Chelan (WA) testing new mesh network gear as a beta tester for

A couple of pictures he sent me will give you a sense of how much fun it is being a beta tester “on the edge.”


So the first thing out, George and his team assemble at Skydive Chelan and hop a Bell JetRanger 206.  This is what it’s like up to the 7,500 drop elevation as they do a climbing turn off Chelan…

Then, once on station, it’s out on the skids, mesh network up, and then… (g2 on left)

The difference between a heli-jump and a normal aircraft jump is that when you skydive from a plane, you don’t get the (plain speaking alert!) “balls in your ears” effect that feels like jumping off a cliff.

That’s because the when you’re jumping from an a/c you have forward momentum which is slowly translated into a fall.  With a heli-jump it’s 32 f/s/s and WHOA BABY HOLY CRAP!!!!

My personal adventures in helping new technology come along sprang from March 1984 when colleagues and I were doing the first experiments with main channel wireless data on AM and FM radio.  But trust me, that was mostly headwork and figuring out how to lay down modem tones on reel-to-reel tape so we could broadcast it…

Barry Wong – photographer for the Seattle Times – did a very good photo of me, considering the story (of wireless) was so ethereal to most people.  Barry’s a gifted photographer and you can visit his site here.   Flip through his Still Life samples.  Marvelous!

A picture of me (broadcasting name George Garrett) with a reel of tape and KMPS?  Hardly the excitement of jumping.

Nowadays, everyone knows what wireless is, and getting a phone call (or 2-meter ham call) from someone “under canopy” is not extremely exotic.  Unusual, yeah…but doable.  Like base-jumping.

But the picture of “how the future shows up” is really some fun to actually be in, regardless of what the technology is.

There’s a certain rush that comes from being on the bleeding edge and seeing the stuff that will push the future (this way or that) looks as it comes screaming down the birth canal.

Und zo?  There’s a grand juxtaposition observed in Life:  The headlong rush into the future contrasted with the thoughtful Wong still life photographs.

A Zen ponder to start this Friday:  Which image is the essential essence of humans being?

Voting – Under the Influence?

Elaine and I were sitting around Thursday talking about why the world was so nuts.

I explained that one reason is so many people are on mood modifying meds.  The number I last saw was semi-officially in the 20% range, or put another way, upwards of 70-million people a day are using drugs to “recreate.”

Struck up the question – with this many people using drugs – *(and the numbers don’t include alcohol if I have it right) should we consider only allowing people who can pass a drug test to vote?

I mean sure, if you have a scrip for med-weed, fine, or if your scrip for oxy is current, sure.  But traces a meth and whatever (non-prescribed) might change the voting patterns and out comes.

I’ve never seen any studies on drug dealers engaging in “get out the vote” campaigns, but who would go looking (‘cept us curious minds who want to know, of course)?

We came to a simple but obvious conclusion that surely everyone ought to be able to get behind.

We know that impaired driving causes accidents and death.

We imagine that impaired voting could cause the same results, only on a much more horrific scale.

Anyone up for drug tests on voting day?  It’s an employment booster, too.

It might help cure lots of off-kilter thinking in politics.

Personal Work Management

Went through an interesting exercise in the past week that I thought I’d tell you about…and you might find it interesting.

I decided to make a list of everything I’d like done around the ranch here.  All divided into different activity centers (inside the house, yard work, shop and maintenance and so on).

Then I went through and tried to estimate how many hours of work were needed to see everything through.

Turns out that I have 246 hours of work I’d like done around here. Everything from putting up some window trim I haven’t gotten around to, bush hogging the whole property twice this summer, limbing-up trees…the list seems aimless.

Then I figured up how much time I spend in the ongoing realities of life.

The UrbanSurvival and websites are a 50-hour per week deal.  Not all of it is writing, of course.  I spent some time Thursday trying to figure out why our RSS feed wasn’t going on.  Things like that eat up time.

Then there is relaxation time.  I don’t have any, but in talking to my buddy Gaye over at, she reminded me that in order to work for long periods at peak performance, everyone needs to take some personal down time.  We’ve been telling each other that for, oh, 40 some years now with little noticeable effect on either, but it’s a good point.

I like the idea of three hours a day, plus an hour for a martini and socializing with E before dinner.  So call it 4-hours, but that also includes all my TV time and such.

So now I add up the daily: 11 hours per day and that’s before getting to ANYTHING on the 246 hour list.  Oh, half an hour a day on the garden, too.

I’ve also got an unusual constraint in that my hard contacts are only good for 11 hours per day, too.  So even if the mind was willing, the body isn’t following.

So we made a decision to hire someone to help around here.  We met with ’em last weekend, and either this weekend or next, a recent hort. degreed young man will be helping on the “big stuff.”

Once you get into the later 60’s (68 going on 69) it seems like a good idea to pay for help on bit stuff.  The shop, for example, needs a coat of elastomeric coating on it (Snow Coat or similar).  The problem is that old men on roofs is one of those inverse math relationships.  The older you get, the less sense high work makes.

We’ll see how it goes, but the idea of having help around here – even if it costs something – to catch up on the backlog sure is a worthwhile way to spend a few dollars.

As you get older (if you’re not already) I’m sure you’ll evolve the same sense:  As you get closer to the “far end of Life” there’s less time to lose on meaningless details that “you can’t take with you.”

On the other hand, working diligently on things like honing the quality (and recall) of your dreams and such…well, that’s something always worth doing, regardless of age.

Around the Ranch

Other than the 246 hours of work laid out?

First tomato flowerings have been sighted.

And the big magnolia tree looks to be covered with buds that should be popping out over the next few weeks.

Sure sign of summer..

Have a great weekend and more Monday.

Write when you get rich,

11 thoughts on “Coping: Where New Technology Comes From”

  1. I wonder how many politicians would be willing to take a drug test… Maybe even random drug tests through their term. After all, safety sensitive jobs like truck drivers and refinery worker are tested to protect the public…

  2. Did you know that all the municipal water systems in the US cannot filter out any medications such as antibiotics and depressants? The EPA in 2000 concluded that there are over 195 medical compounds in addition to fire retardants, jet fuel and 2000 other industrial chemicals. Sewage that is “cleaned and filtered” is placed back in the rivers and lakes where drinking water is drawn from.
    My guess is that most Americans are narcotized without knowing and as such there judgement is impaired. Explains much in life in the good old America.

    • All my water from whatever source that will be consumed goes through a Berkey filter. It just seems prudent.

  3. I used to own a “rural” type property in central Scottsdale. One acre, main house, guest house, horse rights, 100+ year old mesquite trees, citrus trees, pool. Despite the location wild animals were constant visitors, javelinas, quail, coyotes, hawks, rabbits. No sidewalks or street lights. Quiet, little traffic. Very nice, but the property owned me. As I approached 70 I decided it was time to drop the never ending to-do list so last year I sold the property and bought a first floor condo that opens onto a multi acre park. Despite the HOA fee my monthly costs have dropped dramatically and I have more time and money to travel and spend more time with my kids and grandkids. It’s nice to be able to leave for an extended time and not worry about upkeep other than the bottle of wine I give to a neighbor in turn for her watering the plants on my patios when I’m gone. I’m a lifelong DIYer so I get that fix renovating my condo. It’s a nice change in lifestyle that lets me focus on my bucket list rather than my to-do list. Best wishes for whatever path you choose.

  4. George, your concept of drug tests for voters is absurd and smacks of Orwell’s 1984. If you want only level-headed people casting those ballots, you would do better to eliminate all the idiots who willingly swallow any medication their sawbones samples out or that they see advertised on TV. By your own admission, you are a walking pharmacy yourself! Interestingly, that 20% figure you cite also applies to another sector of the population: hypochondriacs!

    I’m just surprised that -as much as you love money- you don’t advocate voting rights soley for those earning over $75K per annum… of course, then who would you blame for the election outcomes?

    • I generally agree that drugs are like any tool, and their legal status is irrelevant other than legally. All drugs have legitimate medical uses, and off-label is common for those that can get scripts. Many intelligent people realize that no MD will step far outside the lines and that we’re all terminal, so we might as well tune our health optimally. We do this with supplements, but somehow some chemicals, classified as “drugs”, are off limits. We need to have a proper national conversation about the prudent use of any substance outside the medical paradigm. Too many conditions are being managed badly or not at all because of inflexible laws. This is an insult to the citizens of a free nation.

      Just prosecute and convict REAL crimes – those with a victim. People are responsible for their actions and their consequences.

      I’d never vote if required to have a drug test, even though I’d pass. Same with employment. I consider personal integrity far more valuable than a few dollars.

      Regarding an income threshold for voting, I find this wrong. I’d be OK with an income OR asset threshold, such as owning property or a bank account with five figures.

  5. George, I’m older than you and I LOVE roofing, climbing, caving and doing so solo. I know who to blame if I fall. Right now I’m framing up a roof and it feels good to work really hard. Next job is concrete for a foundation wall, and then skinning another roof with metal. I’ve never acted my age and see no reason to start now.

  6. When I really started getting into setting things straight around our ranch I partnered with our neighbor, who was about 75 at the time, replacing the first mile of fence between he and us. We’d clear the brush and take down the old fence keeping some of the T-posts, he ran the pneumatic jack hammer and did the welding, we’d measure each length, I drove the truck, laid out the T-posts and 1″ sucker rod pieces he’d cut up for this purpose, then we’d lay out the wire net, stretch and tie it down. All this was learning on the job for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He’d been doing it for a living for quite some time all over Texas. He still was taking fence jobs up until last year when he fell out of a tree – at 80 – broke something in his back and had to lay off work for a while. Less than 6 weeks later he was piloting the jack hammer laying out another fence line and some time in there went elk hunting in Colorado as was his tradition.

    I’m not part of that gene pool, unfortunately, so the bio-mechanical conveyance my grey matter rides around in may not take me that far but I fully intend to push it as far as I can before I have to hand the reigns over to the kids. This place WILL be a fully functioning ranch again before then. It’s a matter of personal will going toward your vision, George, if it’s what you really want to do. When your playground is measured in sections rather than acres the vision changes. Not bragging here, just saying that’s my life’s assignment and, God willin’, it’ll get done. I also fully believe the reason our ancestors lasted as long as they did was because they didn’t know what the meaning of “retirement” was. It was a foreign concept to them. The main reason they died was because they couldn’t work any more. Work can be its own reward.

  7. I just had 400 sq. ft. of saltillo tile added to my house, I did a 4×6 patch and realized no more for me! Sons of arthritis, ibuprofen chapter. Found local young(er) guys to do it!

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