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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Children and the F-word Lynnette Reese

One of our bloggers moved across the U.S. a while back, travelling in an RV. He has a wife, kids, and a dog. He seems a bit rattled, but who wouldn’t be, hurtling through space at 60MPH in a metal box with kids and animals running about inside.

It’s times like that when I ask myself….”Now why did I have kids?”  The word “cute” comes to mind, but when I realize I could be drinking mojitos in the Caribbean with the extra time and money. A cross country move or camping means whining and crabbiness, dogs and kids that need a restroom stop every 2 hours, and (purposely?) lost toothbrushes….being a parent comes with a sense of resignation at times. It does get balanced out by the good times, and it makes for some really funny memories.

For those of you who don’t have kids, kudos to you, the world is getting crowded anyway. But in solidarity with those of us who do have kids, let’s talk about the good side of that venerable venture, because parenting is as old as man. (Neanderthals were parents, too.)

Why it’s fun to have kids

You get to experiment on them. (Twins are especially interesting.) I told my kids when they were 6 (they kept asking) what the F word was…..I told them it was “Farfenugen” and remembered to say  “Farfenugen!” every now and then in traffic. Recently, at age 10, they found out that “Farfenugen” is not “the F word.” For 4 years I heard them tell on each other, “Mom, he said (whisper) Farfenugen.”

It was hard not to laugh. Then there was the time when I was driving and some road rage occurred 3 lanes to the right of us and my daughter asked me that guy was yelling, “Vacuum! Vacuuuuum!” I said maybe he was upset because he couldn’t find the vacuum store. Obviously she mistook one word for another because if you read lips they look so similar. Lots of words are similar and can be mistaken for another.

Do you know the difference between a thermistor and a thyristor? A thermistor has to do with sensing temperature. It’s a type of resistor that reduces resistance in response to heat, but it’s non-linear in places. If you only need temperature measured where the response is linear, you have a cost-effective sensing element.

A thyristor is a transient overvoltage protector. According to Bourns ACTP Series’ datasheet, a thyristor “is designed to be used in series with an overvoltage clamp device, such as an MOV, to protect a power supply from damage due to an overvoltage condition on its ac input lines.”

As a parent, I can say I enjoy watching my kids get excited by technology and learning. Sometimes the learning isn’t always academic, however. My son once told me he was not going to do the dishes that I had just asked him to do. He said, “Why should I work for you for free?” This almost made me laugh, considering all the sleepless (unpaid) nights I have spent with him, but I paused. Instead of yelling “Vacuum,” I knew this was a teachable moment.

Up to my armpits in flour rolling out dough, I said, “Well, I am working to make dinner and was going to share it with you, and if you don’t want to help, you don’t have to. But then I don’t have to share my dinner with you. You can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich.” The ghost of The Little Red Hen was never prouder. After a pause, he cautiously asked me what was for dinner.


Silence…… and then, ”OK, fine, I’ll do the dishes.” And he did.

These are simple lessons, but you get to shape the moral conscience of another human being and watch them learn. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important your role is in their lives. And time slips by, and before you know it, you no can longer influence them--- they’re done. That cake is baked.

But this also brings to mind the incredible giving that goes on when makers spend hours and hours to photograph and document projects for people they will never meet. They respond to comments and help others find their way with no expectation of compensation. This, my friends, is the same human compassion and generosity that good parents and friends practice every day. And even if there are no comments, people are reading your projects and getting inspiration for their own designs. As a blogger I rarely see comments but sometimes get stopped by people who mention similar experiences that I have written about. So don’t think that your effort as a parent, friend or maker are unappreciated. When you share projects and give to others, you are making joy, not just electronics.

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Lynnette Reese holds a B.S.E.E from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Lynnette has worked at Mouser Electronics, Texas Instruments, Freescale (now NXP), and Cypress Semiconductor. Lynnette has three kids and occasionally runs benign experiments on them. She is currently saving for the kids’ college and eventual therapy once they find out that cauliflower isn’t a rare albino broccoli (and other white lies.)

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