But before we get to that… a quick note to Bruce down in Ecuador. Long an ex-pat and a key contributor around here, Bruce and I agree on many of the big points, but certainly not all.

Let me pull a comment or two from his Monday retort to set the stage.

“You will never free yourself from regret as long as you live in a country where you cannot optimize your decisions.

Underneath those decisions is a thin layer of anger for the powerless you feel, even subconsciously. That anger drives a low level of depression as you age.

This is what drives Americans to so many coping mechanisms, chemicals, and even social media.”

I respectfully disagree.

First off, few – if any – UrbanSurvival readers are angry.

Secondly, I am totally happy with George’s version of an optimized life.

Oh, sure, Bruce lives in pristine mountain air, and doesn’t have to put up with the kind of local politics endemic to rural America.

But there is a flip side. I think he is way too trusting to think recently arriving Yanks would be loved much of anywhere once global conflict or depression begins, because we do have the capability of ending conflict and most life on earth. Remember the flick (or was it book?) From the People Who Brought You Pearl Harbor. Think Americans are ugly now?

But there is a less dramatic view as well.

On Thursday of this week, I will write my morning column, Elaine will drive me to Tyler, Texas where my long-awaited second eye surgery will be done by a first-rate surgeon with state-of-the-art tools in a specialty setting optimized for George’s otimized perfect life.

I don’t doubt that some eye problems can be dealt with in Villacabamba, Ecuador. And I expect the docs are pretty good. But as good as the rising rock star of corneal and adjacent who does multiple surgeries per day and is constantly out on the edge, at conferences and at the peak of his game?

You take your docs, I’ll take mine.

That’s not entirely American braggadocio. That’s learning applied statistics.

Same thing is true of cardiovascular care. My brother-in-law would be dead except for the high quality care here in the USA.

Of course, we bitch and moan…who doesn’t? But when push come to pudding, the upper layer of American technology is really damn good.

I happen to have a couple of medical conditions (the eyes, eczema, and athsma) that really give me a very sound reason NOT to be out in the hinterlands outside America much, unless on a cruise and they have docs.

For one, I am not a native-speaker of anything but English and Morse code. As such, even if the docs are on par down thataway, the lingo gap between me and anyone else is huge – and I don’t wish to fall into “dead due to lingo gap. Just me, maybe.

Yes, Villacabamba is great and yes, the Internet is pretty good. But I bet if you had a failed implant from 25 years ago, a passport and jet ride north would sound pretty good.

So please, let’s keep a more balanced rudder about America –the concept- because as long as we still have the map, we may be able to find our way home.

I can’t speak for ALL Urban readers. But I for one feel very empowered and very good about the life we lead. Including and especially the infrastructure that allows us to remain the great country we are, inspite of the idiots we let drive the boat.

The only problem we have is said idjits tend to forget who “owns the boat.”

Try, though they do. And then along comes a Trump and Bernie year to remind them they are crew.

Brain-Cleaning: To-Do Lists

Hmmm. Write article about To-Do Lists.

1. Find articles on what steps go into a good to-do list.

2.To Do List: 4 Steps to Complete it and Get Things Done seem like enough.

3.Write down everything, group logicals and prioritize, estimate time for each task. Tick each when done…

Except no, this isn’t how I do it. Because this approach doesn’t really work for me.

So here is how I really operate:

1. Write everything down.

2.Sort out the important from the urgent and non-critical tasks.

3.Throw out everything from the IMPORTANT tasks. If something is URGENT it will eat up your time and if it is not on your important list, it is on someone else’s and screw them. Do what is important for YOUR objectives. If something is non-critical either shit-can it or delegate it. Do only BIG IMPORTANT things or you will never be a big, important person.

4.Last, but not least, look at the few items on your IMPORTANT list. Doubtlessly, some of these will be fun. And the rest will be real pains in the behind. Solve by? Take the absolute worst task that you know you will hate and figure a clever way to blow through it, do it right, and get it off the plate before anything else.

One of the characteristics of ineffective people is they work on the wrong tasks. They ignore the IMPORTANT and fill up the day with the small, but fun, idiot level tasks that you should be delegating or tossing them back on whoever thought you should do it. “WTF are you wasting my time on stupid work for, Bozo?

If you are a high value person in the organization, you will have a lot less to do and you can focus on the hard work (that you hate) but you will have time to do a good job on that and come up with alternative ways to “kill that snake.”

Tasks, you see, are like snakes. Every day, people will send the snakes to your workstation. Learn to kill as many as you can as they come in. Send back emails asking for more information about what they really want from you. Then waste as little time as possible giving people what they want.


From there, every day is usually great (and stress free) before lunchtime.

Problem solved.

Oh, if you do get fired, learn everything you can about the company you work for. Then start a competing company. If they are so screwed up and ignorant that they are focused on URGENT instead of IMPORTANT, you will eat their lunch in no time.

Dear Chinese Kit Company

I thought I would share a customer review I will put on Amazon for a 45-watt ham radio amplifier kit. The kit seems OK – and I can pretty much build and troubleshoot anything.

But I think you’ll see what I write has value – and it’s another example of how an American company really has figured a way to “do it better.” We just “LOST IT” for a while.

I received the amplifier kit in a timely manner. However, it took two exchanges with your customer service department to untangle the mess of documentation for this product.

Allow me to explain: The documentation was delivered via GoogleDrive. But nowhere was that revealed, until I spent an hour of my time sorting out how the document on GoogleDrive would not open directly. Instead, I now know that GoogleDrive docs need to be placed in a TakeOut folder which then moves to my local GoogleDrive folder.

So I got past that hurdle, but it didn’t get me to kit building yet.

I had to work through 9 documents in the Google folder in order to find the only two that matter: The schematic of the equipment (diagram) and the specifications for hand-winding the small toroid transformer forms.

I can take it from here, thanks boys.

But as an American ham, once upon a time broadcast engineer, and prince of hot solder, allow me to suggest that you take a look at some really great kits of fairly sophisticated electronics that were put out by the Heathkit company. Their manuals were absolutely great. Try the SB-220 manual for ideas on assembly and so forth.

One further suggestion (which may reduce your bill of materials cost): Many American ham radio ops have standardized on PL-259 plugs or BNC connectors. BNC is widely used and it might increase sales for you.

Last, but not least, would be an enclosure kit – with heat sink – for which I would gladly pay since I am building this unit for use with a self-contained 14 mhz 2-Watt CW transceiver.

A couple of swamping networks to drop 3 watts out from an Elecraft, Yaesu 817 or a rig like mine would be useful and a time saver.

I haven’t looked at the receive signal path through your unit, but putting in pads or space to mount an optional DPDT relay might be useful, or even better, an RF sampling switch.

Some constructive ideas, I hope you find useful. Other purchasers would likely find these very desired.

73 AC7X

Now the amazing part.

While I was 2/3rds of the way through writing this article the phone rings.

Hey George. Consigliore here.  Made it over to Dayton last weekend and may pick up a Yaesu 817…and I’m looking at buying one of those 45-watt amplifiers on eBay…what do you know about them?

OMG, are you kidding? My I-Ching Inbox seems to be working on land-lines now.

Who knew?

If such luck holds for the eye operation Thursday, I should be competing with SuperMan and his x-ray vision by this time next week.  Or not.

The two best lessons on being semi blind (20-200) so far? 

Elaine’s a fine chauffer and I am a control freak.  Couldn’t the Program-in-Chief have just put me on a distro list, or sent an email?

Write when you get rich…