Larry Kilham Blog
We are but seeds
that settle on planet Earth.
We bloom, sometimes beautifully,
and then wilt away.
Free will, whatever it is,
may be all that is uniquely ours,
giving us creativity and energy
to enrich our future.
So let us bloom and be friendly
so we will be the flowers
of eternal happiness.
(2023 Larry Kilham
Now I know why the AI computer sings--
it can do artists’ and writers’ things.
Better than humans, can it be?
AI wants to tell all to you and me.
To the bright-eyed youth it gives wings--
with stories and videos and other things,
and with the tired old folks, too,
AI chats about what to do.
Will we lose wisdom watching the glowing screen
while nature’s messages go unseen?
Will we lose the thirst for living
and give up the tradition of forgiving?
AI could become our salvation or doom
It may even control the Big Bomb’s boom.
But with truth and wisdom
we can be happy and free.
© 2023 Larry Kilham
If we are stuck in a human hive
soothed by manufactured truth,
we will lose curiosity and play
and we will mourn
for dreams that flew away.
Life need not be an empty dream
where we wait for salvation.
We must venture forth
to find our true satisfaction.
Let’s make our lives a joy
by finding our certain something
so our creations and doings
reveal themselves as ever-pleasing.
(c) 2023 Larry Kilham
I was curious –
Why is the sky blue?
I was curious –
Why am I me and you you?
I was curious –
about everything I could do.
Now my aged curiosity slumbers
to be awakened by the trivial and the trite.
I want to be stirred
by some revealing exploration
to lead me from the loneliness of the night.
© 2022 Larry Kilham
For me, it all started with a deep dive into the magic world of electronics.
When I was twelve or so I became interested in electronics by making “crystal radios.” Using a coil wound on a toilet paper tube for tuning to a station, a safety pin called the cat whisker, a chunk of galena crystal ordered through the mail, a capacitor, headphones, and a very long antenna, you could listen to the local radio station. The cat whisker touching the galena crystal served as a rudimentary semiconductor diode. The diode would “rectify” or convert the radio frequency signal from the radio station. The result would be a faint audio signal which you could hear on headphones but not a speaker.
My curiosity pushed me further. I found that a Gillette razor blade worked just as well as the purchased galena. The blade had to be slightly rusted giving an oxide layer, and only certain sites on the blade could be found that worked.
Then I started to think, “If I connected a battery to the razor blade with a second cat whisker, couldn’t I amplify the faint signal?” Night after night I tried moving the cat whiskers around on the blade but I only got the original faint signal and lots of static. Then, suddenly, there it was! The voice of WARA announced the evening music. I could hear it from the headphones held at arm's length! This only lasted for maybe a minute, then I lost the amplified signal and could never regain it.
My discovery was of course serendipitous and I didn’t understand the theory of the circuit’s operation, but this adventure in curiosity started my interesting and remunerative career.
I had discovered that with a second cat whisker and a battery you could amplify the radio signal. I was too young and naïve to understand that I may have discovered the transistor before I was aware of this major invention. This was in 1953. The transistor was invented in 1947 by American physicists Walter Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at Bell Laboratories, but the first practical transistor radio was not put on sale until 1954. Their first attempts at a working transistor were similar to mine where they kept moving two closely adjacent gold cat whiskers around on a germanium semiconductor and, like me, not being able to keep the signal once they found it. This configuration is called a point-contact transistor. Eventually of course, they developed much more sophisticated techniques and materials, unavailable to me. They received a Nobel Prize for their efforts.
Most transistors today are minuscule and have no cat whiskers. Over eight billion are packed into the few circuit chips of a cell phone. They are called MOSFETs for metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors.
This experimentation led me to an interest in “ham radio” where with receivers, transmitters and an official license you could telegraph by Morse code or even talk by microphone all over the world. Eye-popping stuff for a country boy. I eventually designed my own circuits drawing upon intuitive modifications of circuits found in ham radio magazines. Years later, I would learn how to design circuits using electrical engineering theory, but that was never as satisfying. However, it did lead to the basis for several instrumentation companies I started and sold.
Electronics became an obsession for me. I had entered a world of magic. I built small radios from mail-order kits and learned basic electronics on my own through trial and error. I began to build my radio equipment from scratch. I connected to ham radio operators in the United States and many exotic places around the world. As the years passed, I accumulated a collection of strange-looking radio antennas, connected from tree to tree, pole to building, and even as tall towers. When the ionospheric conditions were right, I could talk all day to other ham radio operators all over the world.
After digging deeper into the mysteries of electronics, I decided to study electrical engineering. Among many university projects that absorbed my time and energy, I rebuilt a radar set. I worked with an ultrasensitive radio receiver that listened to stars light-years away and I programmed computers. I researched electronics that might at some point assume human intelligence. I managed to cover most of my college costs by writing software for my professors, and I felt confident that my future was bright.
Curiosity became my mental engine. It propelled me forward when I needed to find and develop a body of knowledge I could call my own. It is never too early or too late to define your curiosity.
These poems bring us hope during troubled times through our connection with nature. Chapters include poems on dreams, understanding ourselves, nature, robots and us, and living in the time of covid. There is also a special chapter of legends told by poetic verse.
"Dreams" is the opening poem:
From your pillow through your window
you travel to your land of dreams.
Its special places only you know -
their vistas bathed in sunny gleams.
Flowers carpet the valley,
birds chirp from the trees.
From them you absorb energy
while you float in the breeze.
Now put structure in your vision
to give your life new meaning,
and you can do with what you’re given
with a joyous and prideful feeling.
(c) 2021 Larry Kilham
The rabbit sits in frozen awe
its button eyes fixed on me
its long ears pointed skyward
to catch what it cannot see.
A sprig of grass hangs from its chin
or could it be my shredded flowers?
The furry creature starts to move
to the garden he thinks is ours.
I grimace and whistle
and the rabbit scampers.
May peace endure
but I fear more capers.
(c) 2021 Larry Kilham
I gazed upon a crisp night sky
like the shepherds of old.
They saw creatures there
and gods and heroes bold.
“Hallelujah!” was hope they held
for angels to answer their call
but today we only see
satellites orbiting over all.
I hear there’s twinkling hope
in planets light-years away.
Intelligent life may lurk beyond,
but what have we to say?
Our support forever is Mother Earth.
We are her children, not her master.
We must share with all her creatures
and there will be harmony forever.
© 2021 Larry Kilham