« Reply #62 on: December 21, 2010, 02:13:40 pm »
My dad had been a Navy engineer (propulsion systems), so up until he retired in the 70's, he was gone much of the time ('Nam and SE Asia).. but when the ships would come in, they would close schools-- eveyone's dad would get home when the battle group would come home. Better than Christmas, because they had been in Japan and such all that time, without a lot to spend money on, so military kids tended to get good gifts, many of them technology as tech is small and space on ships is at a premium. My mom was a schoolteacher, so she saw anything educational as basically a required item.
Though we wouldn't find out WHY for another twenty years, I was a sickly kid, very small for my age-- Crohns causes developmental stunting due to the inherent malnutrition. Since I was sick and very weak much of the time, sports weren't my thing.. but intellectual things were. Even sick, I could get lost in taking apart one thing or another, or making something. I read nonstop, ripped apart anything with a cord, browsed Allied Electronics catalogs and religiously waited for the next Circuit Cellar info from Mr. Mimms. As these were educational things in their eyes, they tried to help me along as best they could in a town of 1,500 that was spitting distance to Canada. Once a month, my mom would even drive me almost an hour so I could go to Radio Shack among other places.
I will take a moment right now and tell ALL of you:
[size=14]If your family does not own a CH4 (Flammable Gas) detector and either heat with Natural gas, Propane, or other flammable gases- or have a close neighbor who does- PLEASE get one. If you truly cannot afford one, email me. I can't help directly, but I may be able to steer you towards some folks who can help.[/size][/b]
I am passionate about this.. because on a cool September morning in 1982, when I was fifteen, the world ended. A propane explosion destroyed our home and all contents, and killed both of my parents. A CH4 detector (expensive in those days, but under $50 now) would have saved my parents their lives- and prevented three kids from a chain of events that nobody should endure. Get a detector, and keep fresh batteries in it. Nobody should see the air catch fire. Not many do and live to warn others- and I am one who has. Sadly, that event and subsequent related events derailed a lot of things for quite some time. It wasn't until years later when I had my own place that I really picked things up again.. I wasn't exactly in a good headspace for a long time.
For years, I kept things, meaning to eventually tear them apart and twiddle with- just never got around to it. Only now am I opening some boxes of stuff I had ferreted away a solid decade ago.. Arduino has actually REDUCED the amount of tech-hoarding I do, because now I'm much more particular in what I want to keep.
After I got sick and could no longer work, I began dusting off old hobbies and diversions that had entertained me in years past. It was only this past summer that I found Arduino and got back into the hardware side of things, after being mainly a software guy for years. What's funny is that the simplicity of Arduino for some reason really reminds me a LOT of those early days back around '80. Sometimes as I'm trying to figure out a circuit, I find myself happily sitting on that farmhouse bed in rural Wisconsin, a teenager with a screwdriver and a lot of curiosity. A lot of you kids, that's where you are now. Don't get derailed, and that curiosity and intelligence will carry you far.
So where am *I* in encouraging my own rug rats? My son is getting an Arduino and a fairly decent complement of prototyping components and such for Xmas. He's already a fairly decent Python scripter, as well as basic PHP. You'll be seeing him here within the next few weeks, I'm sure! In some ways, I'm jealous.. I can't wait to see that disturbing level of satisfaction that comes from "BLINK" when he uploads and runs it the first time... like all of us, he'll be siting there grinning like he just cured all of mankinds ills with one swipe of the hand. After that, he- like the rest of us- will be hooked.