I have this rare condition characterized by an extreme intuition about all things mechanical and electric
... and utter social ineptitude. Yes, I'm an engineer (emeritus).
To see just how close the parallels are between the fictitious Dilbert of the
cartoon and the real me, please scroll down.
Yep, that's me all right.
In the Dilbert cartoon above, the child engineer takes apart the family's TV set and with its components, builds a Ham Radio set. Little Dilbert thus established beyond any doubt that he had "The Knack" which means "an extreme intuition about all things mechanical and electric -- and utter social ineptitude."
Exactly as Dilbert was reported to have done in the cartoon, in real life I too took color TV components and built a multi-band single side band Ham Radio transceiver. My accomplishment thus established, beyond any doubt, the fact that I too had "The Knack" -- at least in that regard. Of course the other key factor in having "The Knack" is "utter social ineptitude," but that has always been obvious to anybody who has ever met me so I have never had to do anything but simply act naturally to establish, beyond any doubt, that fact.
What was implied in the cartoon, but not actually stated was the fact that a genuine Dilbert can not stop himself from fixing anything that might not be working right, even if not asked to do so. The EEG machine, the other little boy's helicopter, all these things young Dilbert was compelled to fix. I'm so ashamed, but yes, I feel this same irresistible urge to fix stuff too and it just drives me crazy if people won't let me fix something that isn't working right. We Dilberts know that if we don't jump in and fix something that is broken, or do something when a more skilled person just isn't available, nobody else will. Dilberts know that, depending on the seriousness of the situation, if we personally fail to act when action is needed, we ourselves will suffer, perhaps all our lives, knowing we could have done something and didn't. Regardless of the appropriateness of the social situation and especially if someone who has no authority to say that it's "not our responsibility," we Dilberts instinctively take responsibility. In other words, we must do what our nature has determined that we must do. As a friendly warning when dealing with your local Dilbert: please be aware that we absolutely HATE it when stupid people insult us by telling us what is and isn't our responsibility, because we know better than anybody what failure to take responsibility can lead to. Finally, we Dilberts are more interested in using our skills to make the world a better place for everybody, much more so than just for ourselves.
Finally, there is this, when Dilbert's mother asked the doctor if he'd be all right, the doctor reluctantly had to tell her the terrible news that no mother wants to hear: "no..., he will be an engineer." But, of course, I too became an engineer, as I was inexorably fated to do despite my best efforts to avoid it. There are just some things in life you can't avoid and so this was one of the few major exceptions to my life's philosophy that "there is no problem so big you can't run away from it."
My ham radio made with color TV parts.
Speaking of my knack for electronics, I have recently added a new section to my webpage regarding antique and other radio projects. After lying around for decades and decades as piles of junk or otherwise inoperative ornaments, I have recently restored all of my radios to working condition.
My radio stories include:
(1) the story of the very first tube type Armstrong regenerative radio I ever made,
(2) the story of a EC-1b shortwave radio I pulled out of G. Allan Hancock's junk pile over 50 years ago (and which
sat in my family garage all that time),
(3) the story of my WW II era EC-1 shortwave radio (so popular with the G.I.'s),
(4) how I rebuilt and redesigned a Hallicrafters 38b shortwave radio,
(5) an essay on early radio detectors starting with the coherer detector,
(6) the personal story of my Hallicrafters S120 radio my parents gave me that only took 50 years to get working
(7) the story of my beautiful 1942 "Summer of '42" Philco battery portable radio,
(8) the story of how a friend and I restored a rare 1942 Farnsworth portable radio,
(9) a story of a little solid-state regenerative short wave receiver I built just for fun,
(10) the story of my very beautiful "King's Speech -- Fireside Chat" 1936 Fairbanks Morse shortwave radio,
(11) a short story about a very sensitive and selective crystal radio,
(12) the story of an extremely rare 1936 Troy Radio and Television Company radio I was given as a gift in 1959,
(13) a short story about a very rare San Francisco built Remler 1945 radio with its iconic Scotty Dog on the front
(14) Finally, I've finally posted the story of my "Magnum Opus" ham radio that I made from color TV parts and how
it was responsible for much of the later success in my life.
Because all these projects are what makes up the life of a "Dilbert," I have used them as a vehicle to include a little personal history and some of my own philosophy too. Speaking of this, I need to warn you that besides historical and technical data, my radio stories also include some rather maudlin autobiographical junk and some controversial personal opinions. I'm sure that some people will find it very strange that I have included such stuff in otherwise technical articles. One person wrote to tell me that my opinions (he didn't agree with) "didn't belong in technical writing." Well, what can I say except that this is my personal website, I am charging no fee or subjecting anybody to annoying advertisements and folks are under no obligation to stay, so I get to say anything (not obscene) and tell my stories as I see fit. Because this is all so amateur and done for my own personal satisfaction, I am under no obligation to come up to any standards of journalism or technical writing. I have created my website to entertain myself, but I present it to you free and without commercials in the hope you will find something in it useful and entertaining.
If you are in any way curious about such things (and god knows why you should be), please stop by My Radios page and see if there isn't something you might find interesting and entertaining.
You know, us Dilberts love smoke and loud noises too and so I've created several pages of stories regarding my old "shooting irons" that many people have found useful and entertaining. Please drop my Shooting Stories Selection Page and see if there isn't something you might like to read. While you are at it, please look around the other parts of my site because there are lots of other things besides stories of old fashioned radios and old fashioned firearms.