Author Archives: j.c.w. - Page 2

Hiking in Fall

A park infographic describing the Power of Pollinators.

I went on a glorious hike with the Scouts on Saturday. My son got out with a crew that he seems to enjoy spending time with as he is slowly able to stretch out and tries to make new friends in a new place that we’ve been living in for over 6 months. And I got to walk with a dear, old friend. Hiking with this gentleman is nothing new. We’re older now and perhaps a touch slower, but it was fun.

I took no pictures but the one on top of this entry. It was far too nice a day and the hike was far too enjoyable to burst any bubbles with getting out a phone and tapping out pictures for a blog that I’m rather spotty about updating. Or for any other reason. It’s important to forget the tech and bask in the trees whenever possible. The world is more beautiful when not viewed through a camera’s lens.

I’m not sure how many sunny days there will be for the remainder of the year, but I don’t mind hiking under the lead grey skies of NE Ohio. In fact, I rather enjoy hiking in the snow.

Cozy

A beagle on a pair of slippers.

Cooler weather brings the zoomies to the pups. It also brings evenings where it’s nice to curl up and be warm. We have a fireplace and that’s grand. The dogs like to be close to it and it brings something of the far off olden times with it – despite the fact that we turn the fire on and off with a switch.

The weekend promises to be cool. Perhaps sunny, but cool. There’s a hike with the Scouts coming up and maybe a little field time with my new toy. More about that nerd radio stuff soon enough.

For now, it’s good enough that it’s Friday and maybe I can get some rest.

Autumn

Patio with flower pots.

The light is a little more golden now. The grass has extra days between mowings. Leaves are starting to drift down from the locust trees and some of the maples are bursting into colors not seen in a year. The sun picks and chooses when it will show and the temperature is guess work even with tech that tells us what it measures outside.

The time we have to sit on the patio and breathe the cool air is limited. It’s precious. My family feels this and we’re getting outside as much as we can now. Quick hikes. Runs up and down the block on scooters. Dog walks that meander a bit. The last runs on the bikes. It’s that beautiful moment before we close the doors and windows for a while.

My wife hates it. I proudly proclaim, “This is the weather of My People!”

The Old Magick

An ESP32 chip with OLED displaying the time and date set by NTP over WiFi.

Not thinking about the Strange Days is more and more my hobby. To distract myself, I peel the onions within my more physical hobbies. A good hobby has layers and each one could be its own area of recreation. Radio is great in that regard.

I have a microprocessor that came on a development board with an OLED display. It is WiFi and Bluetooth enabled. I put together a small program to grab the time from an NTP server and display it. I put power to the chip, it connects to my WiFi, grabs the time, and shows it. Incredibly simple. But in that chain, how many things could I not recreate from scratch?

That’s where it falls down for me. I don’t think that I could pull together what I’d need to reproduce such a function. I know how the components work and could do a block diagram, sure. Obviously, I can write code. But could I do it all from nothing? No.

Radio is a little different. One can still assemble a pile of resistors, capacitors, and coils and make a functional radio. Each of those pieces can be fabricated using simple materials. It really is the basis of so much tech. And there are books that can take one from nothing to a functional radio, given time and patience. It’s wonderful to play with that power and absorb that knowledge. It really feels like mastering a kind of magic – the old kind from legends and the deep past.

It’s a sickening feeling, but it feels like we as a culture are on the edge of losing things. Hard earned knowledge and a respect for curiosity are threatened. Perhaps it’s time to enhance all of our personal libraries where we can with books that hold the basics. We may yet need them.

Stasis

An ancient bookmark from the Empire State Bldg.

We are stuck. Nothing is really moving. Or so it seems. And with that lack of motion comes a natural anxiety for most. Those most afflicted are the ones lashing out. There aren’t as many as one would think. The outliers bubble to the top of the social media feeds because they demand clicks and eyes. Why is that? Because it’s outside of the experience of most but still close enough to be seen on the edges or in the distance.

In this time of stasis, we can think. We can reflect. We can imagine.

It isn’t easy. None of this is. The disasters that are piling up each day are very real. They were all predictable and predicted. This is not the stuff of prophecy, but the output of science and society. Each item whether it be wildfires, hurricanes, social unrest, or plague is the consequence of a combination of action and inaction. All very rational.

Hard to look at, isn’t it? That’s a shame. We’re stuck here and that’s the only channel we have left.