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Turn a kid on to Engineering

Jack Ganssle
Jack Ganssle
Jack Ganssle, embedded systems guru, challenges you to turn a kid on to engineering.

In the ’60s and early ’70s a national Apollo-era fascination with things technical helped groom youngsters for an electronics career long before entering college. It wasn’t (quite) as dweebish to enter a science fair as is the case today. Kids were excited about science and engineering.

Above all, perhaps, was the specter of ham radio. Like so many others of the time, I got my first ham license at age 16. Though even back then sophisticated operating modes like single sideband (SSB) existed, most of us teenagers couldn’t afford the latest cool technology. We were forced to build our own equipment.

“Forced” is hardly the right word, since building stuff was much more interesting than actually using it, when and if it finally worked.

It brings back memories for me: endless hours playing with Legos and my Erector set, the two-stroke lawnmower engine spread out across the shop (that never worked again), the crystal radio my dad helped me build, the blown fuse from connecting a ham code key using just an extension cord (don’t ask…), the ham radio receiver in my bedroom, the Jacob’s ladder in the garage.

What do kids play with these days that interests them in hardware? Ganssle has some suggestions:

Get a Digikey catalog. Surf over to www.imaginetools.com. There are indeed a lot of resources for young EE-wannabees. Check out www.arrl.org, or Ward Silver’s Ham Radio for Dummies, Wiley Publishing, April 2004.

Sounds like fun!

Freedom

The text of President George W. Bush’s second inaugural speech is online.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

[* * *]

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause – in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy … the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments … the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives – and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself – and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home – the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

[* * *]

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

You can read the whole speech.

Update: Photo replaced with one from this inauguration.

And in Conclusion…

Abraham Lincoln Speeches can be timeless.

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

President George W. Bush could do a lot worse than to close his second inaugural speech with these words. But it’s already been done. President Abraham Lincoln used these words to conclude his second inaugural speech in 1865.

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1865

Fellow countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered — that of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Not So Lonely

WARNING: Purchasing the Los Lonely Boys CD can be hazardous to your health. It was to mine. I experienced pain similar to when I’d broken my foot. My left shoe felt too small. My foot felt heavy and weak.

As I drove along, with my car stereo blasting my new purchase at an appropriate singing volume (if it’s loud enough, I can imaging I’m singing on key), I was unconsciously tapping, no, stomping, my left foot to the beat.

I have learned to control my foot-tapping. If only I could sing on key.

Highly recommended. Even my kids like it!

The Rain Comes Down With A Pitter-Patter-Pit

When the Asian tsunami struck, one of my pastors was in Australia. The massive devastation, the enormous loss of life, prompted some soul searching and resulted in her making five resolutions. Her third resolution was simply stated: obey God more. To illustrate the point, she referred to Jesus’ story of the wise and foolish builders.

24Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” —Matt: 7:24-27 (NIV)

When you obey God, a single set of principles governs your behavior and you become a whole, real whole person. You build on one rock.

When you compartmentalize your life, you act differently around different people. You follow different rules depending on the circumstances. Rather than being one, real person, you are multiple, fake people. (It’s interesting how duplicitous is synonymous with fake.) You don’t build on one rock; you build on a bunch of little rocks. And what is sand, but a bunch of little rocks.

I’ve heard this story explained many times, but this was the first time I’d heard building on the sand be described as being compartmentalized and fake. It spoke to me. Maybe it will speak to you, too.

Missing Mission

Do you have a personal mission statement? I don’t. I don’t even write New Year’s resolutions.

I ask because I’m preparing to teach the teen lesson at church tomorrow. The materials I’m studying aim to enable the students to:

  1. Discern the value of living by well thought-out principles.
  2. Develop a mission statement that reflects their core values and goals.
  3. Encourage others to be guided by goals that have eternal outcomes.

The second item and its associated activity caught my attention. If having a mission statement is worth my teaching, it should be worth my doing.

I understand the general principles that direct my life. They are the same principles that guide other Christian’s lives. Is it sacrilegious to say that those Christian principles are not sufficient, that they should be supplemented with a personal mission statement? I hope not. After some thought, it appears there is benefit to a personal mission statement. A personal mission statement can consider my my specific skills and interests. I need not limit my goals to what I can accomplish now. Growth is possible.

I’m not so naive to believe that possessing a personal mission statement will change my life. I’ve worked for various organizations having missions statements with limited impact on their day-to-day operations. The benefit of a mission statement is in its making, in its updating.

Update: This evening, I visited Tod Bolsinger’s blog, “It Takes a Church…,” (about which I blogged yesterday) and clicked on his book, Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy By Living Out The Faith. On the resulting Amazon.com page was a link to Hugh Hewitt’s book, In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition. It’s relevance to my study topic is unmistakable. I was already planning on getting Hewitt’s book, Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World. It looks like another purchase is in order.

Tabouli

Some people live to eat; others eat to live. Although I probably fit more in the latter group, there are some foods that tempt me to convert to the other side. Tabouli is one of them.

I blog about tabouli because when I arrived home today after a long work week, there was a big bowl of tabouli in the refrigerator waiting for me. What a way to start the weekend!

Here is the tabouli recipe I like. I recommend using a food processor to chop the parsley and substituting the green onions for the onion. I can never wait the recommended four hours…

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 peeled cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, minced fine
  • 3 heads parsley, chopped fine
  • ⅓ cup mint flakes
  • 1 cup cracked wheat (bulgur)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil

Directions

Place the wheat in bowl, cover it with warm water, and set it aside until cool. Then squeeze the moisture out of the wheat with your hands. Toss the wheat with thee chopped vegetables, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Let stand in refrigerator at least four hours before serving.

Variations

If desired, add one half green pepper, minced fine. You can substitute four green onions for the medium onion.

Blog for Jesus

Bottom line: There is no more effective, cost efficient, time efficient and growing way to communicate something as important as the truth of Christianity than through a whole hosts of pastors and teachers blogging. And, if Hugh [Hewitt] is correct, this is only the beginning of a whole ‘reformation.’

Tod Bolsinger, pastor and author, encourages other pastors to blog for Jesus.

I hope he’s successful.