Make the McKenzie Connection!

Ridin' the Rapids

Growing up, my older brother, Frank, reminded me of Dick Tracy. No, he didn’t have a wristwatch phone but he was the only teenager I knew of in the Sixties who could play records in his ‘57 Chevy as he drove down the road.

There were other indicators that previewed he’d go on to pursue a career in electronics. Sneaking into his basement workshop allowed me to twist knobs on his oscilloscope without knowing anything about what the squiggles on the screen meant. I also found the “secret” telephone he’d wired inside his bedroom closet so he could call girls without the family listening in.

As the years went by went he was employed to work on software design and programming, winding up his career at Intel testing new products for homeowners and seniors.

He stuck to that mindset after retiring in 2011, and he sometimes sends me examples of the fruits of the work he’s continued to do on his own. One is a faucet that lights up when entering the bathroom and turns on without dirty hands touching it. His other projects range from detectors that can prevent flooding in laundry rooms or fires on cookstoves when burners aren’t turned off.

The interesting thing about his approach is that rather just testing and commenting on commercial products he’s been adding other features, like an audible reminder when a toilet seat is left up, as well as developing much simpler ways to operate thermostats.

Finally, he’s been sharing his reviews and do-it-yourself tips an online format called, “Tech-enhanced life for seniors,” that I’ve recently added to our website. If you’d like to take a look, go to: and scroll down.


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