Thursday, March 6, 2014
This picture is of my solar panel in my kitchen window. I've recently used this one to charge my Pebble-mini electronic print magnifier, also shown in this photo. Inspired by that success, I've used the panel to recharge my cell phone. These might sound like inconsequential experiments but they could have helpful benefits during an extended power outage.
Suppose lightning or a winter storm knocked out power for an extended period of time. If my cell phone needed recharging, I could use the solar panel. Even on a cloudy day, it provides enough current to top up the battery in both devices.
Back when Canada still had analogue television, I discovered that I could watch TV on a portable plugged into the panel. It only worked in strong sunlight but at least I could find out what was going on.
Similarly, this panel provided enough power to run my amateur radio hand-held transceiver. If the need arises, I can talk to local hams regarding restoration of mains power.
This panel also powered an air ionizer. Made for automobiles, this gadget plugged into the cigarette lighter. Until it stopped working recently, I used it to freshen the air in my kitchen.
I also own four portable radios with built-in solar panels. All I need to do is leave them in a sunlit window for a few hours and I can listen to news reports or music for hours. One radio has the weather band so I can hear directly from Environment Canada regarding upcoming severe weather. I also like just being able to listen without paying a cent for batteries. That was my major complaint when I had a radio as a child.
I wrote about my love of electronic gadgets in my three memoirs. The first two are featured at my Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A CBC radio show called Inside From the Outside performed a wild west parody where Prime Minister Trudeau was the sheriff of a town. He swore that he would stop the marauding gang who planned to shoot up the main street. Instead of firing at them as they road through town, he just shrugged his shoulders.
As with any comedy routine, there's always a grain of truth. Canada experienced rapid inflation in March of 1973. Whereas the money Dad gave me for groceries was adequate, I suddenly found that prices skyrocketed to the point where I had to scrimp. At one point, I bought mint jelly because it was only 39 cents where as strawberry jam was 59 cents for the same-sized bottle.
When I applied for Social assistance in the autumn of 1974, it was like a windfall. I purchased the groceries I wanted rather than whatever was cheapest. I began buying clothing as well because I finally had more than enough money.
Those financial lessons I learned during my teenage years have benefited me throughout my life. The hard times I experienced during the rampage of "The Wild Inflation Bunch" have formed habits of frugality and thriftiness in me. What a shame these lessons aren't part of government spending policies. Our nations would be far better off with bargain-hunting bureaucrats in charge.
I included stories of my economizing in my three memoirs. In How I Was Razed, I focused on the right level of donations to one's church and other organizations. Read more about my latest e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
One movie which gained quite a lot of attention back in 1982 was The Jupiter Menace. According to the film, great disasters have destroyed civilizations for millennia. Even the poles of the earth have shifted as recently as a few thousand years ago, according to the documentary.
The movie producers claimed that Jupiter has an eleven-year cycle, just like the sun has high and low sun spot activity each eleven years. In December of 1982, the planets were in the same quarter of their orbits around the sun. The producers of The Jupiter Menace thought this alignment would create gravitational strain on the earth, causing it to wobble on its axis. A further conjunction in the year 2000 would spawn even more cataclysmic earthquakes.
Using computer models, the movie producers showed what would happen in a magnitude twelve quake. The Richter scale only goes up to ten but they wanted to show the total destruction which would occur if a quake a thousand times worse than a ten happened.
The film makers brought in psychics and scientists to back up their claim of the earth's impending doom. Survivalists were also featured to make the point that people needed to prepare for the total collapse of society. Even the Bible was co-opted to show that the world would undergo cataclysmic events in the next twenty years.
May 5, 2000 has come and gone, yet the super conjunction never caused the utter devastation claimed by the movie. In the past thirty-one years, earthquakes and tsunamis have occurred but at nowhere near the colossal levels predicted by this sensationalistic documentary.
Knowing the Bible well, I can tell that the verses cited were taken far out of their contexts and apocalyptic language was interpreted by the film makers in a wooden, literal way. This is a common practice among end times prognosticators when they sell their alarmist books and videos. It makes money as well because people want to know the future. I'm glad I know my future lies in God's hands, not in my stockpile of food or weaponry in some remote location.
I described how I once believed such wild claims of the end times in How I Was Razed. In this memoir, I showed how I came to learn about the providence of God and how to properly read the Bible. Check out my new book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
These dedicated radio enthusiasts are able to set up emergency radio communication centres quickly and efficiently. During emergency simulation exercises, they travel to rural locations and set up battery-powered equipment. Then they pass on simulated emergency messages from the field to medical staff and government agencies.
But this isn't all hams do. They report the results of cycling races, car rallies, and skiing tournaments so that the organizers can know the progress of the participants. Some amateurs visit schools and set up a time when children can ask their questions to astronauts on The International Space and Science Centre space station. To keep in practice for passing on emergency messages, hams relay questions and answers from family members to their scattered members around the world.
Though the regulations have been relaxed since the amateur radio service was first officially recognized by governments around the globe, new students still need to learn many things. One of these is radio etiquette. Meetings called nets are set up by various amateur radio clubs to relay messages and to brief members on club events. Some nets are held for casual conversations between amateurs while others are strictly structured as practice sessions for emergency training.
Having been a ham since 1987, I haven't had much experience in relaying messages and helping out in practices for emergencies such as ice storms and floods. Even so, I've enjoyed speaking with people on the air across North America and one man in Ireland. I also made contact with a cosmonaut aboard the MIR space station during December of 1988.
In the event of an emergency, I would be proud to help in whatever way I could. This is because of the service-oriented nature of the hobby. Hams aren't allowed to accept any remuneration for what they do. I'm glad this is so because it means that only dedicated men and women leap into action when duty calls.
I mentioned a few of my ham radio hobby activities in How I Was Razed. This e-book and paperback is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
When I opened the monitor, I found several sheets of frosted plastic behind the plastic panel containing the LCD pixels. Then I found a rectangle of Plexiglas. At the bottom and top of it were a set of two miniature fluorescent tubes. These were what lit up the screen. I could tell they were fluorescent tubes because they glowed when held near the Lightning Ball gadget that creates static electricity.
Behind the rectangle of Plexiglas was a white sheet of plastic. I believe this and the frosted sheets reflected and defused the light so the screen would look evenly lit. This arrangement amazed me. I had assumed that all monitors were back-lit with LEDs. In fact, most are lit differently.
I also found the circuit board which directed the signals from the computer's video card to each pixel on the screen. Since it had no reusable parts, I tossed it out. I kept the plastic sheets since they might be useful for something someday.
I kept the blue power indicator LED since it can work without any other electronic part. With a nickel-sized battery from my security system's door sensor, I can make it light up. I've made simple night lights from these discarded LEDs since they consume so little power. This helps me get more life out of old cells.
About a month ago, I bought a new monitor which is back-lit by LEDs. I'm sure that taking it apart a few years from now will be as interesting as when I took apart the old monitor. I might even be able to make an emergency light out of the panel. Since I plan to do that with the scanning light from a dead print scanner, I can try that experiment at some future date.
Science and electronics have been favourite topics of mine since childhood. I mention my passion for discovery in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School and How I was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. The latter e-book and paperback can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Rebelmouse first came to my attention a few months ago on Twitter. I kept reading about that front-page aggregator site but it didn't interest me at first. When I did do some research, I read complaints about various aggregator pages. Fortunately, none of those were about Rebelmouse. So I decided to give it a try and see what happened.
Setting it up was easier than I thought. With the site's tutorials and intuitive lay-out, I was able to make my online posts look professional and pleasant to the eye.
I like the feature of the page which lets a person make separate pages for different subjects. On my rabbit page, I have photos of my departed bunnies and of Deborah who lives in my kitchen. People who viewed the page had nothing but positive comments about it.
Then there's my music page. On it are my YouTube videos and some Soundcloud upload links.
My book page is one I'm quite proud of. I have links to four YouTube book trailers and ones to the sites where my paperbacks, as well as my new e-book, are available.
The main page is a snapshot of my Facebook and Twitter activities. I've even set up the page to display my Blogspot and Wordpress posts. Though much of the site is automated, I still enjoy looking at all the content on it. At times I even post pictures and links which it didn't catch. I can put photos on the pages whenever I like too.
Since I haven't had any problems thus far, I feel safe in recommending Rebelmouse to anybody who would like a page where their assorted posts and likes can be displayed. It makes life a lot easier to give out one link instead of half a dozen. Click here to get to the Rebelmouse sign-in or log-in page.
If you'd rather go directly to my How I Was Razed book page, click Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers to read more about it. My previous books are at the Bruce Atchison's books link.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
If only people would give bunnies a chance. The first thing they need to do is to learn the proper way to litter train, feed, and rabbit-proof the room where the bunny is kept. The House Rabbit Society website has all the information a novice rabbit owner needs to know to care for a bunny. Though there are other sites claiming to have credible information, the data is often wrong and based on opinion rather than empiracle observation.
What I love about bunnies is their inquisitive natures. Once a person wins a rabbit's trust, a precious gift in itself, they become outgoing and affectionate. All the rabbits I've had in my house quickly warmed up to me once I got down to their level and showed them I wasn't dangerous. I let them make the first moves rather than grabbing them up like a stuffed toy. Being prey animals, rabbits instinctively fear being picked up.
Like dogs and cats, rabbits need proper veterinary care. This is often expensive because they're only seen by exotic specialists. But if somebody truly loves their long-eared companion, the expense of a proper vet is worth it.
Bunnies can live up to ten years with proper care and correct nutrition. I've heard of some who have lived to thirteen but they were quite frail by the time they died. Since this is so, potential rabbit owners need to be committed to their pet for the long haul. Vidulence is also required as bunnies tend to hide their illnesses from the prying eyes of predators. I've taken my rabbits to the vet when they exhibited some odd behaviour and usually discovered that they had a serious illness. I've also made the mistake of ignoring subtle signs of discomfort and ended up losing my beloved fur friends.
Back in 2006, I published my debut memoir called When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies. It shows how I came to live with these amazing and amusing members of God's awesome creation. I also pass along the lessons I learned during the eight years covered by the book. For more information about it, check the Bruce Atchison's books link.