Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox

I know you're probably expecting a column this issue, but I switched things around due to unforeseen stuff. /rap

Hello Bob:
Just thought I would add my two-penny worth to the child punishment debate. Whilst bringing up our three children (the eldest is now 8), my wife and I have always considered that a swift but scaled punishment (i.e., a smack) is always preferable to a deferred punishment (i.e., no biscuits for a week). (I would never say that is NEVER an appropriate punishment. It might be appropriate for some premeditated crime. /rap)

In my experience, a young child loses focus of what the punishment is for after a few minutes. I think it is very important, however you punish your children, to allow the child to relate the punishment to the crime. (I tend to agree. /rap)

If the child does not understand what is wrong, punishment will only cause confusion. (Even for DOGS, people have learned this! /rap) We have both found that the threat of punishment has diminished its occurrence. We now smack our children very rarely; it just isn't necessary. (Ah—they have learned. I think your teaching is working pretty well. At our house, we were able to get on the same learning curve. /rap) I think the real problem here is that the "thought police" are out and about in force. (Check. I have not run into them, but I have ducked that for years. The "politically correct" movers are swarming in some such areas. /rap)

I know many people who don't smack their kids who have brought up fine children. I equally know families who have struggled. I think that what works is best. And, within reasonable bounds, people should be left to bring kids up without the worry that the local social services will remove them. After all, bringing up children is probably the most difficult job going. (Check. /rap) There are very few role models. Most of us only get two to view close up. (But there are others we can learn from, while we watch from some distance. /rap)

Keep up the good work. I am strictly a 0's and 1's man, but I always read your articles. Some of it loses me, some of it sinks in. I hope you're never too old to learn.
ALUN HUNT
via e-mail

Well, Alun, some people have learned the concept of NEVER hitting a child. Others of us have not agreed on that. I don't think either side is wrong, and neither side has an easy task. My main tack would apply when a small child tries to reach for a hot item, such as a stove or soldering iron. I would reach out my big PAW and SWAT her hand away from the hot object to interdict the harm. Then, I would immediately try to EXPLAIN why the hot item would be very painful. Every kid has to learn how to recognize hot objects. I have been fairly successful at explaining to my kids why they should not do something. I want them to learn to trust me when I say, "STOP!—DON'T do that, and I'll give you five reasons not to." Then I would have to explain five good reasons why they should not march out into traffic (because a car is coming) or some more obscure danger. We adults are not perfect, but we have to teach our kids to trust us when we warn them, "NO!!" Fair enough? But, as a matter of semantics—or of degree—I have always been willing to give my child a calibrated SWAT, but not a SMACK. We certainly agree that we should not beat kids —or wives—or anybody else.—RAP

Dear Bob:
I always enjoy reading your column. Regarding Bob Becker's letter and your comments (Electronic Design, July 20, p. 113), I would like to draw your attention to a simple truth found in the 24th verse of the 13th chapter of the book of Proverbs:

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

For those who would question the ultimate author of these words, consider, at least, the reputation of their human author concerning wisdom. Regarding conventional "wisdom," note the 22nd verse of the first chapter of the book of Romans:

"Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools."

The full chapter provides the proper context for this statement.
JEFF MUMMA P.E.
via e-mail

Jeff, we tend to agree that sometimes children need an education. As I said at the end of the previous letter, maybe a swat betimes. But, I don't ever recall taking a rod or switch to my kids. Just a swat.—RAP

Dear Bob:
I'm not sure what you mean by "linking up your GPS receiver," or even why you'd want to. But, a friend of mine showed me his GPS, playing through a laptop that was running a portion of the "Precision Mapping" program. The result was very nice—a large, moving map display of the area being intercepted by the GPS receiver. As we drove, you could shift your eyes from the laptop screen to the street signs as they went past—in total agreement!
BOB SWINNEY
via e-mail

Hello, Bob. I am not trying to get perfect linkage of my ACTUAL position and my GPS position to read out. I just want to be able to turn the GPS off when I turn the key off—without sucking down the battery. Yes, YOU, the passenger, could see the laptop display and the street signs. But, was there a way the DRIVER could do this, without getting into accidents?—RAP

Dear Bob:
As I read your article on touch typing, I gave pause to reflect on why I took typing in high school some 33-odd years ago. And, I remembered that I was one of two males in a class of 24 females. I never got much above 30 wpm. The funny thing is I can't remember any of the girls, but I never forgot how to touch type.
DAN VANDAME
via e-mail

I'm typing up around 30 wpm, and I can't gripe. I learned at home from my mother and a couple of simple books. I never forgot the girls in school, though!—RAP

Dear Bob:
After reading your "What's All This Circuits-In-Your-Car Stuff" column in the Aug. 3 issue, I was reminded of the time that I "improved" upon the "blinker audibility" in my 1984 Cadillac Cimarron. It was very hard to hear the blinker's thermally activated contact reed. So, I decided to use a salvaged Mallory Sonalert sounder, fed by a couple of isolation diodes (one for the right, one for the left blinker circuit). This would better alert the driver when the turn-signal blinker was "on."

It worked fine, and the audibility was great from the driver's perspective. What I hadn't thought of, however, was how it would affect my wife when she was riding along with me as a passenger! Women, in general, seem to be more sensitive to high-frequency sounds than men. And, as just a passenger, the Sonalert's frequency drove her crazy (even at a deliberately reduced volume level).

So, the bottom line would perhaps be: Before finalizing any sort of audible alert in your car, it might be prudent to fly it past "she who must be obeyed" first. Try to pick a sound that won't be terribly annoying to others in the car who are "captive" to our creative genius!
DAVE MILLER
via e-mail

Maybe an adjustment pot in series with that Sonalert will let you control its volume. Or, tape some foam over it! And, beam it toward the DRIVER!! They are fairly directional, right?—RAP

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected] team.nsc.com—or:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

Note: RAP will be trekking in Nepal all of October. Don't expect much response to your mail or e-mail until November 10.

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