Sunday, May 30, 2021

Uncle Stash’s Silver Star

“Every man has two deaths, when he is buried in the ground and the last time someone says his name.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Stash is short for Stashu and Stashu means Stanley in Polish. He was married to my grandmother’s sister Ruthie who passed away in February 2020. Stash passed away in 1963 when I was six. I don't remember much about him but there were always stories about Stash in World War II. Rumors he was a member of a special forces group that captured a high level Nazi general. 

Stash worked in a factory in Springfield, MA before and then after the war. From what my parents have told me he was the kind of person that went to work, came home and went back to work again the next day. Never talked about the war but does have a Silver Star on his gravestone. 

After Aunt Ruthie passed away I did a little poking around on the web and came across Stash’s Silver Star Citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant Stanley J. Schab (ASN: 313466007), United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force while serving with Company M, 143d Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action against the enemy on 3 December 1944 in France. Sergeant Schab and his men were manning a machine gun in a house on the edge of a town when a large group of the enemy infiltrated around the building and cut their communication lines. Although hostile fire was coming through every window of the house, Sergeant Schab moved from man to man, firing his sub-machine gun from each position to encourage them. When a burst of automatic weapons fire knocked his gun from his hands, he picked the weapon up and continued to fire. One group of the enemy succeeded in reaching the yard, but Sergeant Schab killed two Germans and wounded another within five feet of the rear door. His vigorous and determined defense forced the enemy to withdraw. Later in the day, as he moved his outpost forward, he surprised and captured five Germans who were attempting to return to their own lines. When two other Germans tried to rescue their comrades, he killed one and wounded the second. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

December 3, 1944.... today it's just another day a long time ago - an obscure link on the web and a gravestone marker in a small cemetery in Western Massachusetts. 

So many veterans like Stash - a regular guy that went off, did some heroic stuff, and was fortunate enough to come back home to his regular life.... so we can have our regular lives. Many did not get to come back and many came back very different people. The world sure would be a very different place without our current service members and veterans stepping up. Hemingway finishes: 

"Stories, too die when the last person who knows the story dies. So the trick is not only to know the story, but to make people remember the story, so it will live on.”

We can't forget.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

PSpice Lab Series Video 1

Over the summer I’ll be working on a series of OrCAD PSpice videos. PSpice is one of the most common analog and mixed signal circuit simulator and verification tools used by electrical engineers to rapidly move through the design cycle, from circuit exploration to design development and verification. It is also a lot of fun to play around with!

I’m developing a series of 25-30 online experiments that we’ll be using in my EGR223 - System Analysis (Circuit Analysis 1) and EGR 224 - System Analysis (Circuit Analysis 2) courses at Holyoke Community College. Here’s the first video in the series.

OrCAD has an excellent academic program that provides students and educators with a complete suite of design and analysis tools to learn, teach, and create electronic hardware. If you are a student or educator you can download the software here for free and follow along with my labs. If you are not a student or educator (or perhaps considering) you can download and install a trial version of the software here.

I’ll be teaching the Systems 1 course online in the fall and the Systems 2 course at Holyoke Community College in the spring so if you are anywhere in the world and interested in taking a course with me drop an email to Both courses will transfer to most university electrical engineering programs in the United States. Hope to see you there!!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Can Success Be Taught?

Success .... Is it luck? Timing? Purely based on abilities and talents we are born with? Can it be learned? Can we teach it to our children? Why are some more successful than others? Can it be taught and learned  Hmmmmm….

Bill Murphy wrote something back in 2016 over at that I’ve had bookmarked titled Want to Raise Successful Kids? Science Says Praise Them Like This (but Most Parents Do the Opposite) with the tag line Stop praising kids for their innate or God-given abilities, and instead focus on their effort.

In the piece, Bill describes the work of Dr Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychology professor that did a couple of studies involving school age children and learning. In both studies Dr Dweck examines the difference between a growth mindset (belief that achievement is variable and intelligence and problem-solving abilities can be developed over time ) and a fixed mindset (belief that intelligence is almost entirely innate and you are born with it) and how that can impact success, arguing growth mindsets can have a much larger impact on success compared to fixed mindsets.

What does this mean? Let’s use a sports analogy. A person with a fixed mindset might say, "Tom Brady was born with super athletic ability" while a person with a growth mindset might say “Tom Brady has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today.”  

Bill Murphy breaks things down pretty nicely from a parent perspective. I’ll tweak his writing, approaching as an educator with a focus on students.
  • Praising students merely for their innate abilities, such as their intelligence, actually makes it less likely that they'll grow up to enjoy learning and to excel.
  • Praising students instead for the strategies and processes they develop to solve problems--even when they don't fully succeed--makes them more likely to try harder and ultimately achieve.
Can success be taught? No doubt - yes. Take a look at Dr Dweck’s research and check out some of Bill Murphy’s writing for more.