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July, 2009:

Forty Years on the Road to Forever

1969: Jeff's garage on Clarence Avenue, full of broken TVs.1969 gave us the Summer of Love, though we (and I especially) didn’t know it at the time. Back then I thought of it as The Summer We Landed on the Moon, and to a lesser extent The Summer I Filled the Garage with Broken Radios and TVs. It was the summer I turned 17, between junior and senior years at Lane Technical High School in Chicago. It was the summer my big home-made 10″ Newtonian telescope finally (after three years of hard work) saw first light. It was the summer I got my first job, washing dishes at the Walgreen’s Grill at Harlem and Foster Avenues. It all seemed dazzling the way that most things do to young people who haven’t drunk the corrosive kool-aid of cynicism, because so much of it was new to us.

We rarely see history happening the way the future will see it. Time is actually what writes history, with all of us peeking over Time’s shoulder and shouting our opinions as to what really mattered and what was just entertainment or distraction. I didn’t see it then, and it took a few years for the realization to sink in, but the summer of 1969 was the most important summer of my entire life. Why? It was the summer I met Carol, who was first my girlfriend, and soon after my best friend and confidant, later on my fiancee, and eventually my spouse. I told the details of the story of our meeting in this space five years ago, so today, I’ll fill in some of the backstory, as a possible answer to the question we frequently hear: How did you make it work?

Well, similarity was a very good start. Opposites do attract–and then, like protons and antiprotons, generally annihilate one another. Carol and I were both middle-class urban Baby Boomers. We lived in small houses near the northwest corner of Chicago: Me just inside the city limits, she just outside, in the bordering suburb of Niles. We were “good kids” of careful and loving parents, who simply expected that excellence would be demonstrated at school and good manners would be demonstrated everywhere, at all times. Honest mistakes would be tolerated, but misbehavior was unthinkable. Neither of our families were especially flush, but we both had all that we needed, and if there was any restlessness in either of us, it hid well.

Jeff at 14I was nerdy but not asocial; in fact, as I progressed through my (all-male) high school, I became a sort of alpha geek, and was president of the Lane Tech Amateur Astronomical Society for two years, a position that carried considerable prestige and a coterie of like-minded and enthusiastic followers. I finished our basement on Clarence Avenue in knotty pine paneling when I was 14, and spent a lot of time down there writing science fiction, building telescopes, and tinkering with electronics. At the time I considered loneliness to be part of the landscape of ordinary life. My best friend Art Krumrey and I took long walks and talked endlessly about having girlfriends without achieving any remarkable insights. I’ll admit that Art had a better grip on it than I did, and the first real date I ever went on was a blind outing with his first girlfriend’s best girlfriend, who in truth didn’t much care for what Art and Rosemary had handed her, and nothing came of it.

Carol at 14Carol was quieter than I, and a lot less eccentric. She pursued straight A’s with tremendous energy (managing to be double-promoted past third grade) and yet was described as “serene” by her classmates. She was grace under pressure, in spades: calm, precise, and capable of summoning focused enthusiasm without falling all over herself, as I sometimes did. Beyond academics (especially science) her two big interests were dance and drama, and she appeared in the major high school plays produced by her school all four years she was there. These were not casual, small-time things, but full-blown musical comedies, including The Boyfriend and My Fair Lady. I’ve seen professional theater that was done with less skill and cruder production values. She had plenty of poise but was quite shy, and while she spoke occasionally with boys in her neighborhood, she attended an all-girl Catholic high school, and didn’t mix a lot with the opposite sex. Her parents told her she could not date until she turned 16. The week after her 16th birthday, she went on her first date, with a boy from her neighborhood. Two weeks after her 16th birthday, well, there we were, and the world changed.

Jeff and Carol at the annual Third Lake Corn Roast in August, 1969

The seed crystal at the center of that change was a desire for genuine friendship with the opposite sex. I had actually had a little practice in that with the little girl three doors down, and hugely enjoyed the camaraderie, even though hormones had intruded by the time we were 14 and ruined what had been a remarkable preteen friendship. I was determined not to make that same mistake twice. Carol and I went to movies and plays and other entertainments, but we also took long walks, delighting in 1970: Jeff & Carol in a downtown Chicago photo boothconversation, each for separate reasons not well understood, even by ourselves. Here was a boy who enjoyed talking, and could talk about all kinds of things–and here was a girl who enjoyed talking, and didn’t think conversation about astronomy and the mysteries of the fourth dimension were invariably the symptoms of derangement. Once again, it worked: We became fast friends, and although we went to conventional school dances and five or six weeks in shared our first kiss, all that went on between us existed within a matrix of friendship nourished by conversation, in person and in a stream of letters that flew back and forth across the three miles that separated us, on a more than weekly basis. Six months after we met, in the thick of a particularly intense conversation that has otherwise been forgotten, Carol told me that she loved me, and we both knew that it was true–not mere words stemming from giddy infatuation or social obligation, but something far more real than both, because they had emerged from genuine and unselfish friendship.

Another key issue (though I hate to use the term) is that we allowed one another space. We dated other people here and there, and although we both lived at home during our college years and went to local universities, we had the good sense not to go to the same university. We thus avoided overdosing on one another, and dodged the temptation to control one another’s lives by continuous smothering presence. When Carol left home for grad school in Minnesota in 1974, we managed the two-year separation far better than we might have had we been joined at the hip the full five years previous.

2008: Jeff and Carol formal portraitEverything else across forty years has proceeded from that simple foundation: Be friends, be patient, don’t smother, and talk about things. We’ve had arguments, including a couple of doozies, but once anger was spent, love flowed back in and started the conversation going again, so that healing could begin and the process of friendship continue.

Finally, we learned along the way to recognize what was uniquely valuable in one another, and we leaned toward one another’s virtues as we grew into adulthood and then middle age. The process was slow, incremental, and sometimes extremely subtle–so much so that now and then we find ourselves thinking: Did I learn this from you or did you learn this from me? (The answer, of course, is a resounding Yes!) Not that the direction our virtues traveled really matters. The point is that we allowed ourselves to be changed in the cause of a friendship that we valued above all else in our lives, and that friendship has never disappointed us. Forty years has taught us that our friendship was well worth the effort; nay, that our friendship is in fact what being human is for.

Remarkably, we’ve kept in touch with Art and with Eileen, the girl that Art met that same night, as well as Jackie, Carol’s friend who introduced us on July 31, 1969. We’re all going to get together for a quiet dinner tonight, and raise a toast to the Summer of Love, forty years on but endless, as all really good summers always are.

Odd Lots

  • Yes, I’ve been lax on posting, but we’ve taken a short vacation with Carol’s family, and I’m reading PDFs of the finished pages in my book, for reasons that I don’t need to go into here. I have lots to post about, but little time or energy to do it. Bear with me.
  • Our new puppy now weighs five pounds and is going on eleven weeks old. He still hasn’t told us his true name, but we’ve suggested Dash, Pascal, Dover (think “White Cliffs of”) and two dozen other things, and all he wants to do is chew on Carol’s slippers. At least he’s learned to use the potty pad, a trick Aero never quite mastered.
  • You can help classify galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey over at the Galaxy Zoo, which is one of the coolest crowdsourcing apps I’ve ever seen. You don’t have to know anything about astronomy to classify galaxies, but people who are passionate about galaxies may find the process less boring.
  • Anyone who has ever killed time with Conway’s Game of Life has got to see this video, of a spaceship gun: a large, complex GoL pattern that generates moving “spaceship” automata that then crawl away toward the right. The gun seen from a height looks stable and in its own way beautiful, but at higher magnification it’s full of furious activity, almost like a chaotic Pac Man game. How such things are designed escapes me completely, but this makes me wonder what larger and even more complex GoL structures exist and have not yet been designed. (Discovered?) Thanks to David Stafford for the link.
  • David’s hot this week: He also sent a link to an extremely intriguing article suggesting a different sort of cosmic cycle: After the Big Bang, time began running, but then gradually slows down until it stops. At that point, what had been the time dimension becomes a new space dimension, and (presumably) the whole thing blows up again with a brand-new time dimension, as a richer and in some respects more mature cosmos. Shades of Stapledon’s Star Maker.
  • Although we’re still seeing TV spots by the late, great (ok, loud) Billy Mays, Mays has an heir-apparent: Vince Offer, who has begun to saturate off-peak Weather Channel ad space with pitches for Sham Wow and the resurrected Blitzhacker, now unfortunately called Slap Chop in the US. (Carol and I had one thirty years ago, and it was indeed useful.) Mays had a certain goofy warmth about him. Vince, well, he’s just…scary.
  • “Sheesh, this thing is ancient! If it breaks, where am I going to find another?”

The Power of Lawn Thatch


Sometime this spring, a dent appeared at the low point of my sister’s sizeable back yard in Des Plaines, Illinois. It wasn’t a hole, but simply a dimple…and over the next couple of months, got lower and wider. I hadn’t seen it for seven weeks when we went over there about a week ago, and this time, at the center of the dimple was a five-inch-wide hole into blackness.

In a moment of manic heedlessness, I stuck my arm down the hole, and it went all the way to my shoulder without my fingers brushing anything like bottom. I waved my arm around, and found that there is substantial emptiness down there. I went back into the house for a broom, and with the handle found that the hole was four and a half feet deep, and went on horizontally in all directions farther than a broom handle would reach.

This was interesting because I was standing right where my sister’s broomstick told me there was no dirt supporting the grass. The grass didn’t seem to be yielding under my weight (about 155 fully dressed) and although I didn’t try jumping up and down, I did feel around the edges of the hole, and discovered that the thatch was about six inches thick and very dense.

Then I got a wonderful, non-grinchy idea: I ran back to the car and grabbed my small Kodak EasyShare V530 digital camera. I turned it on, gripped it carefully, and then thrust it down into the hole. I took eight shots before the battery croaked (it had been in need of a night-long charge for days and days) and when I got back here, popped the camera’s SD card into the reader on the PC, and discovered a dark, creepy wonderland.

Most of the shots failed simply because there was a jungle of dangling root tendrils hanging from the underside of the lawn thatch, and the camera’s autofocus mechanism focused on the roots and not on the more distant walls of the cavern. I had hoped to catch a glimpse of the storm drain pipe that ran nearby (there’s a manhole about six feet away from the hole) and which we suspect has collapsed. But no; there are roots and fresh plant debris washed down into the hole, but not much else to see. The village has told Gretchen and Bill that they are going to (at some point) dig where the hole is and see what needs to be done. That will be interesting, though when it will actually happen is unclear. The hole is still too small to admit dogs or small children, so it may be awhile yet. I want to get back there and take a bunch more photos on a fully charged battery, angling the camera in the direction of the manhole and hoping that I won’t drop it.


I am amazed at the strength of healthy lawn thatch, and only a little less amazed at my enthusiasm for such a peculiar thing as a hole in the backyard. (I guess my inner 12-year-old isn’t completely dead.) Then again, life generally hands us fewer peculiar things than we might want, and in an otherwise slack week they can make life deliciously worth living.

Big Brother’s Ebooks

An interesting thing happened the other day: People turned on their Kindles to discover that several books they had purchased were just…gone. Amazon had without warning or explanation reached down the devices’ Whispernet connections and wiped all traces of the books, which were by George Orwell. I’m not sure anyone has ever spelled “irony” more clearly than this.

Amazon refunded the full price of all books to all those who had purchased them, of course, or this would have been theft. (Many think, with some justification, that it was still theft.) Yea, the world of Copyright Deathwish is getting stranger all the time.

What I find intriguing is that there are two versions of the story out there:

  1. The rightsholders of the books changed their minds and decided they didn’t want ebook editions on the market, and demanded that Amazon pull them.
  2. The people who licensed the ebook editions to Amazon did not have the right to do so.

Story #1, if true, reflects badly on both Amazon and the Orwell rightsholders. Books are published under contract, and if the author/rightsholder can negate a contract simply by changing his mind, it wasn’t much of a contract. On the other hand, if Amazon won’t hold a rightsholder to the terms of a contract, Amazon isn’t much of a publisher.

Story #2, if true (and I think it’s more likely) reflects badly on copyright law as we have it here in the US. It’s entirely possible that Amazon did what it considered due diligence on the purported rightsholders and decided that they were legitimate. Alas, US copyright law makes it diabolically difficult (and in many cases, simply impossible) to determine who the legal rightsholders to a work actually are. Rights change hands all the time, especially for popular works that have been around for a few decades, and double especially works by authors now deceased. Someone who once had rights to a work may not currently have them, or the rights may have been divided by medium, or the rights may be under dispute between heirs and former licensors, or among the heirs themselves.  Michael Jackson bought the rights to the Beatles’ canon in the US years ago; those rights are now “in play,” as they say.

The core of the problem is that there is no public record of ownership for copyrights, as there is for “real” property, like land or even cars. And in today’s environment of cheap server space, there’s no reason for that to be true. It should be possible to trace ownership of IP from the date it was registered down to the current day, with a legal requirement that changes in ownership be recorded, for copyright to be enforceable. There should be no ambiguity whatsoever about who owns what works in what media, and that record should be available to the general public. As long as it is not, incidents like this will continue to occur.

Amazon has pledged that they won’t do this again, but the damage has been done, both to Amazon’s Kindle system and to the idea of copyright itself. People who bought and paid for a book in good faith had that book taken away by copyright holders without notice or explanation. It may have been legal in the narrowest sense of “legal,” but that doesn’t matter. The incident adds yet another brick to a growing edifice of public opinion seeing copyright holders as arrogant, greedy bullies who can harass individuals on little or no evidence, and take back what they’ve offered to the public on a whim. Whether the perception is true or not (and to what degree) doesn’t really matter. Copyright, especially in an era of fast pipes and massive electronic storage, operates primarily on the honor system, which requires honor on both sides, and a legal framework making it possible for that honor to flourish. No honor, no copyright–and we’re much father down that road than most people think.

Odd Lots

  • Probably because I don’t work that much in the realm of historic images, I did not know that scanned or photographic copies of public-domain images are also in the public domain, at least in the US. I’ve been gathering scans of pre-1923 artwork for possible use on book covers for several years now, but the uncertain origin (and thus the copyright status) of most of the copies themselves has given me pause. I guess it’s time to end the pause and hit Play.
  • We’re currently in peak season for noctilucent clouds, which are high-altitude ice-crystal plumes of mysterious origin. Because they’re so high, they reflect sunlight long after the land beneath them is in night-time darkness. NLCs are appearing farther south recently for reasons not understood; predictably, it’s been ascribed to global warming, but some research indicates that southward excursions of NLCs are a proxy for low solar activity, which we’ve certainly been seeing the last couple of years. (Spaceweather has been covering NLCs a lot in recently weeks, with good photos.)
  • Here’s an R2D2-shaped toilet paper cozy. Hey, why is this any weirder than the crocheted teal-yarn poodle-nose cozies that my Aunt Josephine used to keep her toilet paper in?
  • I have a strong affection for Nebraska, and here’s an interesting article about abandoned farmsteads and structures in the western Great Plains portion of the state. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • A chap named Julian Beever may be the real master of 3-D sidewalk art. (Thanks to Roy Harvey for putting me on to him.)
  • We’ve now had cheap desktop CD-R burners for at least ten years, and the lifetime of the media is supposedly about that. Here’s a reasonable article on optical disc longevity that isn’t from an industry source. Has anybody noticed any burned (not stamped) data discs from the 90s going bad yet?
  • When we lived in Arizona, I used to climb an elderly neighbor’s thirty-foot-tall grapefruit tree to help her get the high-hanging fruit. I was in my early forties and that was the last time I ever climbed trees on a systematic basis. If I had to do it again, I would probably stay on the ground and build something like this.
  • Has Bucky Fuller’s Cloud 9 cities concept ever been used in SF? There’s not much to be found online about them, but in brief, he was talking about geodesic spheres as much as several miles in diameter, each containing whole cities that could float via thermal lift by virtue of as little as a degree or two of temperature delta between inside and outside. I’ve been imagining Cloud 9 spheres made of drumlin parts (with possibly a Hilbert drive ring around the sphere’s equator) and I’m a little surprised that I haven’t already seen the idea used in fiction, given that Bucky wrote about it in 1960.

Baby Farm Animals and Other Sillinesses

babyfarmanimals.jpgWe pulled into Crystal Lake last night after all the usual 1100 miles, with three adult bichons and an eight-and-a-half-week-old puppy in the hold. Redball is looking for two permanent names: A kennel name, and a call name. Kennel names are nominally unique (if often complex and sometimes ridiculous) and are how individual purebred dogs are listed in breed databases. QBit’s kennel name is Deja Vu’s Quantum Bit, and Aero’s is Jimi’s Admiral Nelson. Jackie’s kennel name is Jimi’s Hit the Jackpot. We went through a lot of ideas on the way out (Nebraska is good for such things) and floated possibilities like Jimi’s Morning Cloudscape. As for call names, well, that’s how you call the dog for dinner. Short is good. One of my favorites, after listening to him fuss halfway across Iowa, is Riesling, or Reese for short. Hey, he’s white and he whines. (Ceaselessly.)

We’ll figure it out. The trip was uneventful. We played my mix CDs, and when the thumping hi-hat intro to Barry Manilow’s 1981 cover of “Let’s Hang On” started to rise, I cranked up the volume and yelled, “Let’s disco!” I was being silly, but Carol took me at my word, and for the next 2:57 I watched my spouse do an absolutely pure disco routine without ever leaving the front seat of the 4-Runner. Carol has an amazing gift for dance improv that she almost never gets to exercise. I remember back in 1975 when she stood up to a friend’s wedding, and I watched in awe as she and one of her sorority sisters did a near-acrobatic dance improv to a George M. Cohan medley, all in long dresses and high heels, with the wedding party’s pink parasols for canes, in front of what must have been three hundred people. Thirty-four years later, well, she still has it.

I do need to set something straight here before too much longer. I got a note from one of my long-time readers just before setting out, asking me how it was that I wrote a book about baby farm animals. I’ve been asked this before, and the simple answer seems somehow inadequate: I didn’t. However, if you google Baby Farm Animals by Jeff Duntemann” you will get plenty of hits on all the new and used book sites. Don’t order it on the strength of my reputation. The book exists, but in fact was written and drawn by the formidable Garth Williams, who is better known for the art in Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. A little digging revealed an error right at the source: Bowker’s ISBN database, which somehow got Williams’ book listed under my name. That single booboo has by now propagated into virtually every significant bookselling site on the Web. I think it’s hilarious, but if I were Garth Williams, I’d be seriously annoyed, or at least I would be if I weren’t dead. I sent a note to Bowker, but don’t expect the error to be corrected any time soon.

Ah, well. As I’ve said before, better Baby Farm Animals than The Story of O.



Heh. Told ya! (See my entry for July 1, 2009.) Keep puppies long enough, and you just don’t want to give them back. And so it was that Carol and I wrote a check for Redball the other day, just before his eight-week birthday, and added him to the Duntemann bichon pack. (The photo above is earlier, from just before he was seven weeks old.) “Redball” is what (in the publishing industry) we call a working title. His real name may be something else entirely, and we won’t know until he tells us. As of this morning he weighs four pounds two ounces, and is gaining a little less than an ounce a day.

The other two puppies have also been sold and are on their way to new homes, one in Albuquerque and another in Ohio. Bella (their mother) is back home now, though for health reasons her owner is looking to reduce the size of her own pack and is trying to find adoptors for Bella and several other bichons.

Red was definitely missing his mother and brothers last night, and even though he had a cozy Sherpa bag on the nightstand right next to Carol’s side of the bed, he fussed until 10:30 or so. Carol got up twice to take him to his litter pan to potty, and he’s doing pretty well in the housebreaking department for one so young. Pan/pad training works: QBit was pad-trained from an early age and rarely has accidents in the house. (Aero, well, is not so well-trained…)

Although we won’t know for sure for another month or so, it looks like Red will be show-quality, and Carol is considering showing him. (He’ll probably make his show debut at next year’s Bichon Frise Nationals in Indianapolis.) In the meantime, we’re happy to have him romping around on the laundry room floor, grabbing QBit’s hind leg and jumping on Aero’s back. The big guys have been extremely tolerant of Red’s rowdiness, especially Aero, who’s taken the brunt of the biting. Red has a habit of grabbing the end of Aero’s tail and hanging on for the ride while Aero tries to flee. Even so, Aero will roll on his back and bat at Red with his front paws, trying to be a good sport.

I’ll post better and more current photos as we get them. He rarely stands still long enough to get a good shot, especially with the latency of our digital cameras. We do, however, have some wonderful movies. They’re only small like this for a few weeks. We’re trying our best to enjoy every minute.

Odd Lots

  • Here’s a nice, high-school physics level lab demonstration of an aluminum air battery, made from aluminum foil, aquarium charcoal, salt water, and a paper towel. A few of these in series will run a simple solid-state radio. It would be fun to figure out how to expand the concept into something a little more durable, with thicker aluminum plates, in some kind of container that will confine the messy materials and yet admit oxygen to sustain the reaction.
  • Damned if the photo of this beambot doesn’t remind me of the Ed Emshwiller F&SF cover for “Callahan and the Wheelies,” a 1960 story by Stephen Barr that I blatantly imitated in my own high-school fiction.
  • When I first got into computing in the midlate 1970s I had a number of CPU green cards, but was always a little puzzled that none of them were…green. (The COSMAC green card was blue, and the 8080 green card was white.) In truth, I didn’t know at the time why everybody called them “green cards,” and if you still don’t know, here’s a site where you can see the real deal. (Thanks to Richard Haley for the link.)
  • And from Richard’s own hand comes a list of instruction mnemonics that you won’t find on most green cards, of whatever color. My favorite is EMW, Emulate Maytag Washer, which the crotchety frontloading 3330 disk packs back at Xerox building 214 were very good at doing, except that they were in the spin cycle all the damned time.
  • Google Books has mounted most (if not quite all) of a fascinating book called Hi There, Boys and Girls! which is a history of local children’s TV programming in the US. The book is organized by TV markets around the country, and the Google Books version is intriguing for how much material is actually available for free. The Chicago material is available, and excellent, if not as detailed as Jack Mulqueen’s full-book treatment in The Golden Age of Chicago Children’s Television, which has a much more limited Google Books preview.
  • We are getting close to the release of Michael Arrington’s Crunchpad Internet tablet, but little or nothing has been said about the only thing I really want it for: a large-display ebook reader. It needs an SDHC slot (which I think it has) and some decent ebook software (anybody’s guess) but given those two things, it could remake the ebook biz. July is flying. Wherezit at, Mike?

Mopping Up…

This is just a quick note to people who may still be checking this site: I’ve reinstalled WordPress and gotten all the database issues corrected. The hosting folder has been wiped and is now clean. My hosting service froze the account not because I didn’t pay my bills or because I hit some bandwidth cap, but because some SOBs broke in and shot the PHP full of malware and stuck porn links in all my HTML. Fused did the right thing. I’d have frozen it too.

I might have fixed it sooner, but the timing on all this was optimal bad. Carol and I had just left the house for a 4-day campout, and I didn’t have my Web files with me. I was in the last leg of reading copyedits for a 200,000+ word book, a process that included de-tabbing all the source code examples and making sure they would fit in 78 columns. And on top of that, as soon as we got home from the campout, Carol and I became temporary caretakers for a mama dog and her litter of three bichon puppies, who were not quite seven weeks old when they came to us. It’s not that they’re that much work–but they won’t be here long, and there’s nothing quite like having a lapful of bichon puppies, who all want to lick your nose at the same time, and when they can’t lick your nose they’ll be happy to chew on your shirt buttons, and yap in your face when you’re not paying them sufficient attention. What’s a little poop stacked up against that?

I’m still waiting for HTTP to be turned back on for my static pages on, which should happen later today. And in the meantime, I’m trying to reconfigure WordPress to more or less what it was before the attack, which is made more difficult by my not having saved my custom CSS. I may have it somewhere, but if I can’t find it, I’ll have to go through it all again. So what you end up seeing may not be quite what you saw before–but maybe it’ll be better.

At least that’s what I’m hoping. We’ll see. Keep checking back.

Odd Lots

* From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: “Forcemeat” is meat ground sufficiently fine to make it cohere with a fat base, and mixed with spices and sometimes other ingredients before incorporating in patés, stuffings, and sausages.
* The Weather Channel is running saturation-level advertising for a “3D chalk” product from Crayola, which is apparently a selection of very bright, almost day-glow colors of sidewalk chalk, plus a pair of 3-D glasses with which to view your sidewalk artwork. Done correctly, the warmer colors seem to float above the sidewalk a little. It’s almost impossible to think of this product and not flash on the sequence in Disney’s Mary Poppins in which the gang jumps into Bert’s sidewalk chalk drawing.
* The venerable Alfred Morgan borrowed some of the circuits found in his boys’ books on electronics. I found the phono oscillator circuit from The Boys’ Second Book of Radio and Electronics in a 1943 Meissner data book, and now Peter Putnam sent me a link to a 1955 article in Popular Science showing something very close to the diabolical Geiger counter circuit that I tried and failed to build (out of the same book) in 1964.
* There are fake high-capacity USB thumb drives going around. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.) Nobody’s making 128 GB thumb drives yet (though they will eventually) so don’t fall for it.
* Also from Frank comes a link to an interview with Eric Lerner, the man who claims to have developed a new kind of fusion reactor he calls “focus fusion.” I’m not enough of a particle physicist to know whether this is a scam or not (though it sure smells like one) and I hope that my readers who are particle physicists can tell me whether the physics is as dicey as the business plan.
* Our long, long sunspot drought may be coming to an end. Spot 1024 is the largest seen yet of the new Cycle 24, and the largest sunspot seen in almost a year. I guess I better start shielding the fire alarm sensor wires, so I can get on 10 meters!