03 Nov. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


From time to time, I look up my name on the internet.  I've learned recently to be nervous about doing this; it seems that the search companies such as Google save every search by every person forever.  Thus, my name can be connected with, for example, my search for inflatable spectrum analyzers or for my interest in radioactive potassium in case the government might suspect me of making a bananabomb.  Fortunately there are a hundred or so million people whose search terms are equally embarrassing.  Sometimes I'll misspell my name just to confuse them, or even search for a different name.  Does Rin Tin Tin have three Ns or four?

My name is sufficiently uncommon that only a small handful of me reliably appear.  I seem to be the most internet-active of the lot, not surprising since the next most-mentioned is life-free. 

Golfer killed when hit by lightning

LAST UPDATE: 6/30/2005 10:39:53 AM

GROVE CITY, Ohio (AP) - A golfer was killed yesterday when struck by lightning while playing on the Phoenix Golf Links in the Columbus suburb of Grove City. The victim was identified as Richard Factor. He's believed to have been in his 40s. Other members of his foursome performed C-P-R on the victim until paramedics arrived. But Factor died at Grant Medical Center in Columbus. The golf course was built on a landfill and has few tall trees.

I'm certain that wasn't me.  I've been to Dayton, Ohio, for a hamfest a couple of times, but not recently.  There are other reasons, too, but why overcomplicate things?

Below is an excerpt from the "What are the odds of dying?" (due to injury) table from ifthehoodsdontgetyouthemonoxidewill.org
Cause of Death Deaths One Year Odds Lifetime Odds
Motor Vehicle Accidents 44,757 6,498 84
Lightning 47
Occupant of three-wheeled motor vehicle 13 22,373,077 288,313

The odds of dying from a lightning strike would seem to be comfortably low, until you realize that your odds of dying as an occupant of a three-wheeled motor vehicle are 3-1/2 times improved.  (I can see safety conscious motorists removing one wheel from their car seconds after reading this.)  And yet, I knew someone who was killed by lightning.  According to the above story, I was killed by lightning, at least by proxy.  I had another friend who was hit by lightning and was told by his doctor "Roby, you have dain bramage, but that's OK."  (That's an exact quote, but since he had dain bramage it's not clear how reliable his recollection might have been.)

I have been playing with electricity all my life.  I have suffered any number of electrical shocks, especially in the vacuum tube days.  I've gotten RF burns (how appropriate!), painful shocks, startling shocks, and many shocks that would have been fatal had I been standing barefoot on a conductive surface rather than in insulated shoes.  And now, my namesake seems to have been subjected to the ultimate shock.  Shall I take this personally?  I don't play golf, but I've been thinking of learning.  I've been sailing during brief summer thunderstorms and have generally enjoyed the view instead of cowering under the hatches.  I've recently been working with the Prius electrical system, a far cry, voltage-wise, from IC's and low-level audio.  Does Somebody have a message that He's been trying to deliver?  If so, His aim seems to be getting better!

I'm not a morbid person.  If I were, I'd have difficulty discussing this at all.  I'm not a superstitious person.  If I were, I might believe some of this silly speculation and fear that writing about it might bring it to fruition.  I am, however, and most lamentably, a mortal person, so I promise to be careful.

Richard Factor

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