Friday, January 14, 2011

Oscilloscopes and Boy-Thinking

Talking to my niece about girl-thinking and boy-thinking triggered a memory I have concerning oscilloscopes. They are big, heavy machines, (maybe dinosaurs of the past) that measure electrical waves. The reason I know something about oscilloscopes is that I have a husband and two sons. One of their favorite adventures was to attend a hamfest in the twin cities. A hamfest is like a flea market for electronic nerds. The boys and their father would walk around the grounds looking at all the old ‘junk’ (female definition of what is sold at a hamfest). They generally didn’t buy anything until just before closing time. At that point the sellers, not wanting to cart all their equipment (male definition of what is sold at a hamfest) home again, would drop the prices. At that moment my three boys would gleefully cart away boxes of junk/equipment. (Please use whichever term matches your gender.)
These cardboard boxes would arrive in the evening and take up space in the boys’ rooms and the garage. I learned it was better to close the doors on the rooms and not see what was happening inside.
One time, no less than three oscilloscopes arrived. “Amazing,” I said. “What will you do with these.”
“We gonna see how they work!”
What could a good mother do? Close the door.
After a few months, the oscilloscopes migrated to the garage. Other interesting projects superceded the need to learn more about oscilloscopes. That should have been the end of the oscilloscope story. They should have rusted in place or be sent out for scrape, but it wasn’t. When a college friend came to visit with her two younger sons, I was talking about some electronics with them, just in conversation. Because of their interest, my dear friend is now the proud owner of two of the three oscilloscopes. They currently reside in a garage in Boston, if you happen to be interested. She hasn’t come to visit since.
You would think that should be the end of the story, but no, my little grandson is coming to visit soon. I’ll have to clean out the garage to see if I can still find the last oscilloscope.
Please call me if you have a story I can share in this column. (715-532-3209)

Most of the birds have gone away
On this cold dark winter day.
Here is one bird that I can see
Looking for something good to eat.
Little bird, I’ll feed you
Til the cold winter is through
And all of your friends come back to play
On a warm and bright spring day.
(tune: Up on the Housetop)

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