How a box fan sparked my interest in amateur radio

Two years ago I experienced an interesting phenomena. An inexpensive (dare I say, plastic) box fan randomly behaved like a low-volume, flat-sounding AM radio whenever positioned next to a window in my home.

I'm a Big Fan of Yours by Alan Levine is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
I’m a Big Fan of Yours by Alan Levine is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

At the time I had already owned my fair share of electronic devices. I was familiar with the FCC part 15 label included with electronics that stated something like: this device must accept interference from, but not interfere with, other electronic sources.

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WordPress Reader: A favorite mobile app for grown-ups

WordPress Reader is a better choice for browsing a content news feed that matches one’s subject-matter interests.

Creating tags (keywords of interest) in the WordPress Reader application
Creating tags (keywords of interest) in the WordPress Reader application

I wasn’t alive during the time of prohibition, but I’m led to believe there were instances where the sign above the door didn’t necessarily jibe with the activities taking place inside the building. The WordPress mobile app and desktop website hide a similar secret.

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Managing the list of unfinished stories

For months my brain felt distracted by the list of unfinished stories that are spread across the ‘My Documents’ folder of my laptop.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  This morning I better organized my writing into two folders:

  • Completed
  • Work-In-Progress (WIP)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I have fourteen unfinished stories in my writing portfolio.  That count excludes a half-dozen, one-sentence descriptions I maintain of future projects.

I can breathe a bit easier now.  I went into this exercise expecting to find about thirty unfinished stories.  I’m not entirely pleased with fourteen, but my next step this week will be to pare that back to a more manageable, single-digit number.

I don’t necessarily want to delete drafted narrative text, but it may come down to that in order to satisfy my mental well-being.  I suppose I will distill the text back down to a one-sentence description and keep that available in my idea file.

Coding text-based MMORPG games in PHP and MySQL

I’m out of the professional coding world for ten years, but it hasn’t stopped me from creating a BBS-style online text adventure game in the spirit of TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon using PHP and MySQL.

game

I remember well the specs of my first brand-new PC in the fall of 1993 that cost me $3,000: an Intel 486DX processor with 8MB RAM, 340MB hard-drive, and a USRobotics 14.4K modem. With that PC came the joy of exploring local dial-up BBS systems, namely the Trenton NJ area It’s All Rock ‘N Roll and the online text adventure games the SysOp offered his members.

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Flash Fiction: Port of Call

I wrote this piece of Flash Fiction in 2011 from a 12-Aug-2011 prompt, however the original source was forgotten.

Include each of these items in your story. Priest, ring, magnifying glass, cat.

San Francisco by Jeff Gunn is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
San Francisco by Jeff Gunn is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

“Lock the door,” said Alvin, “and have a seat over there on the couch.”  The boy said nothing but complied with the request.  “On second thought, draw the blinds closed, too.  One can never be too careful.”

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Is SEO to blame for the recent trend of poor article substance?

I must have missed the memo informing writers that the tried and true adage, Write what you know was replaced in the last decade by Write to achieve SEO criteria. As a result, readers interested in learning more about a topic unknowingly consume watered-down content that lacks nuance, entertainment factor, and author’s voice in exchange for a few upticks in search engine rank.

Charcoal grill by Joery Bruijntjes is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Charcoal grill by Joery Bruijntjes is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, is basically about crafting a website’s content in a way that emphasizes the subject topic so that it appears higher in a search engine’s results, thereby increasing the probability the content will be found by readers.

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Flash Fiction: Skippy & Mrs. Kribshaw

I wrote this piece of Flash Fiction in 2012 from the 25-Dec-2012 Write Now Prompt posted at Today’s Author.

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the Christmas lights went out…


IMG_7500 by chapman_photography is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
IMG_7500 by chapman_photography is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the Christmas lights went out.

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Flash Fiction: Rose Brand Curtains

Back in November 2010 a friend e-mailed me the message below.  The note struck me as being funny; it seemed random and perhaps intended for another recipient. Here’s the original e-mail and the quick response I cranked out to him. I made a couple edits to protect the innocent and make the posting blog-friendly.

Thanh's S2k01unmarked by joenguyen112 is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Thanh’s S2k01unmarked by joenguyen112 is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

—–Original Message—–

From: Brice

Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 7:20 PM

To: Matt

Subject: Rose brand curtains?

Have you ever heard of rose brand curtains? I ended up sitting next to one of their salesmen today on the plane to Atlanta. Seemed like a good guy.


Do not believe him. He is not who he says he is. I’m surprised he had the audacity to reveal himself to you.

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Flash Fiction: The Smuggler

“Good evening, Mr. Stock.  Please step over here so we may have a look in that backpack, please,” bellowed the school’s vice principal, Mr. Stuckley.  “Planning to do homework at the homecoming dance, are we?”

Trophies by Mr.Fink's Finest Photos is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Trophies by Mr.Fink’s Finest Photos is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I turned my head to see who Mr. Stuckley was speaking to.  So did the two volunteer mothers manning the ticket table, and I found amusement as both their facial expressions drew noticeably uncomfortable once seeing the target of Mr. Stuckley’s attention.  It was Adam Stock, another sophomore in my class who was dressed-to-impress this evening wearing black jeans, a tuxedo-printed t-shirt, polished cowboy boots, and a top hat that would make Slash envious.

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Disney or DMV: Our colleagues view us as a brand

Like it or not, our colleagues view their daily interactions with us similar to a corporate brand.  Here are five intentional behaviors I use to actively manage my personal brand.

Plan Ahead by Oregon Department of Transportation is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Plan Ahead by Oregon Department of Transportation is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Several weeks ago I participated in multiple concurrent assignments where none ran smoothly according to my standards. I found myself frustrated with what was shaping up to be my new normal—my days consisting largely of redundant throwaway work and a greatly reduced operating efficiency.

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