(Continued from Part 1)
“I can’t open my jar of peanut butter,” he exclaimed from the corner of his mouth with an overturned jar in his lap. “You’re a mechanical engineer; let’s design a mechanism for my wheel chair that will grip the bottle while I unscrew the lid?” Such needs launched my mind into new and page-turning design activities; as usual. (I love it when this happens. No, I mean, not when people have strokes, or can’t eat their peanut butter, but you know the english proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention?” I’m surprised he didn’t suggest a capacitive or inductive solution.)
I watched him try to open jars and spread peanut butter. I sketched some ideas, I walked up and down isles at the hardware store for inspiration, then I purchased some aluminum bars, springs, thick rubber coating dip, and a polypropylene bread board and went home to my garage. I drilled mounting holes and a smooth gripping-slot in the cutting board, made wheel chair mounting brackets, bent the aluminum into a round jar-gripper in my vise-clamp, dipped the hand lever in liquid rubber, then mounted everything to the board, and headed back for a test drive on the wheel chair. We tried it, changed it, collaborated on it, revised it, and… Such challenges accelerate and often consume my mental capacities. Just like my father-in-law, I love these creative mental gymnastics. In good taste (or full disclosure), I can’t say that this invention was a gripping success, (I probably should have meditated on a park bench in a national park before going to the hardware store); we eventually set it aside and went on to other things. But I can say that it was gratifying to collaborate with and serve a great scientist who loved engineering, who served humanity, and who persisted spreading his spectrum-modulation, and… his peanut butter. Such are the minds of engineers.
(If you really must know what ‘frequency-hopping spread-spectrum-modulation’ is, just ask Ferril Losee , or look it up on the internet.)References:  Losee, Ferril, RF Systems, Components, and Circuits Handbook, 1997 Artech House, Inc  Morrill, Jenn, Ferril A. Losee, A Man of Honor, Edited by Jenn Morrill