When they're working properly, electronic gadgets are truly marvelous: The same technology that allows you to hear your answering machine messages over a pay phone miles from your house can save the life of a woman who has fallen down a flight of stairs in her own home.
The latter scenario is depicted (with models) in photographs in the brochure for the Lifecall alert system from Pro-Alert Response Systems, 1991 Village Park Way, Encinitas.
The firm markets two units: The LCS 300 single-signal one for $595 plus a $15 monitoring fee and the LCS 500 triple-signal unit for $995 plus a $15 monthly monitoring fee, according to president Michael Gravett.
Someday, all houses will be equipped with systems like this: The Smart House program of the National Assn. of Home Builders includes many features of the Lifecall system.
With the less expensive unit and a device worn on a belt or as a neck pendant, a person can activate the medical aspect of the Lifecall system, much the same way as the more advanced forms of telephone answering systems can be activated. The more expensive unit adds police and fire to the list of emergency services.
But Gravett insists that the system--designed for families with children, the elderly and the handicapped--is much more than a dialing device. When the transmitter button is pressed, it activates a compact electronic communicator hooked up to phone lines that sends the user's coded signal to the monitoring center.
A sound signal response from the communicator panel indicates to the user that the system is operating, Gravett said. The buzzing sound will continue until the communicator successfully makes contact with the 24-hour manned monitoring station.
The Southern California Woodworking Conference attracted more than 200 persons to Claremont's Harvey Mudd College, according to Flo Bishop. I stopped by last weekend to see for myself. I saw Pasadena's Peter Tarbox use a chain saw to make a large bowl, Alta Loma's Sam Maloof telling how he designs furniture and Vincent (Vin) Smith demonstrate his ring gouge and "Devil Doweller."
Smith came all the way from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia to exhibit his woodworking accessories. The dowel-maker turns square stock into dowels on any lathe with a hollow spindle. It's named after the Tasmanian devil, a carnivorous marsupial of his native land. Smith is proprietor of Hall's Machinery in Hobart and is traveling in the States to drum up interest in his products.
I tried out and liked the ring gouge, which has a business end like a ring--naturally--and which enables a turner to produce a fine finish in end grain, Smith said. The gouge is also easier to handle than a regular gouge and enables a beginner to make quick progress in turning, he asserts. Conference organizers Howard Lewin and Flo Bishop deserve a standing ovation for an outstanding show.