Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Update: Work, The Mall, and Jesus - The Small Beetle Man?

I have been really busy at work lately.. I have become the "webmaster" and have been charged with the task of building the company's website from the ground up. It has been fun and I have been learning alot of HTML along the way. This weekend was a break time from that. Piper had four days off work so we decided to go to the mall on Saturday. We got to the mall around 11am or so and about an hour later I got called into work. Piper decided that she would stay at the mall with the kids while I drove back out to work and took care of business. After finishing with my first call, I got a second call (groan). I took care of the two calls and headed back to the mall where I located Piper and the kids in the food court in the Taco Bell line. I headed off to the Panda Express line for some Beef Broccoli, chow mien and Kung Pao chicken. Afterwords, we wandered the mall for a bit and I ran into Circuit city to get a USB flash drive. I found a Sony 1GB on sale for $9.99 (bonus). When I took it to the register, it rang up at $17.99 (WTF!?) I went back and got the sign that said $9.99 and the sales person called the manager. The manager said that I could not have it for $9.99 because the sale ended 4 days ago. I said "That's not my problem, you have a sign for $9.99, you have to give it to me for that." The manager said "Fine, we will do it for you this time." like they were doing me a favor. I got pissed and told them "Don't act like you are doing me a favor for 8 bucks. I am doing you a favor by not buying all ten of them on the shelf for $9.99." After that they shut their mouth and I was on my way. There was a Singstar booth setup so people can play the game. It is a karaoke type game. Andrew and Jamie sang Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" and had a good time. We ended up buying the 90's version of the song with 2 mics where I promptly lost my voice.

Sunday, Piper and I went to breakfast at our usual spot because the kids were at church with the Grandparents. Our place was closed (DOH!) due to a power outage. We ended up at Big Boy down the road where we sat next to an energetic 4 and a half year old boy who was making lots of noise. The noise didn't really bother us too much because we are used to Andrew. At one point, the kids mom was telling the other people at the table (the kid's grandparents maybe?) a story. We couldn't help but listen in. The mom was saying how the boy a few days ago told her that "Jesus was very small". The mom said "What do you mean Jesus is small" The boy said "Jesus is small like a beetle". The mom said " No, Jesus is big, he is the size of a man". The Boy responded with "Yeah, a beetle sized man!" LOL! There was also an older couple there having breakfast that I noticed. They were both reading the paper and didn't say a word to each other the whole time they were there. I asked Piper if we would end up like that someday. I think her response was "I don't know?" Weird.. It is strange that you would even go to breakfast and not enjoy the other persons conversation.. Oh well.. I am off to bed for now. BTW, we had some thunder and lightning here today. The Tigers also lost their home opener. :(

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I am still around. :)

I am still around. I have been really busy lately. I have been working on my works website which has taken a lot of my time. We had about 5 inches of snow here the other day, most of it has melted now. Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Log! by Blammo!

Remember this:


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Antenna Realization

I put the G5RV up with bad results. I have come to the conclusion that due to my location, 60 feet is about the longest dipole I can hang with half way decent results. The 102 foot G5RV that I "bent" to fit was great on 75 / 80 meters put absolute garbage on 40, and it barely worked on 20. I took it down and put the 52 foot G5RV-JR back up and within minutes I worked a station in Texas on 40 with an S9 signal report. Shortly thereafter I worked the Virgin Islands on 14.243 (20 Meters) with 5x9 + 20DB over report. I guess I am just going to stick with the JR on 40-10 Meters and maybe get a hamstick or rotatable dipole for 80 meters. Really, I am not too worried about making contacts on 80, but it would be nice to have the band for contests because sometimes it is the only band "open". In other radio news, I did get the phono plug to wire a mic to the Clegg and I still need to run a ground wire outside to the ground rod. I also need to see about getting some RTTY (Radio Teletype) going soon. I do have the computer interface for that.

Yesterday was a good day

Everyone was unusually nice that I encountered yesterday. It was about 58 degrees and sunny most of the day. My morning started out going to Ferndale down the dreaded I-696. To my pleasant surprise, I was like moses driving down the middle lane. Cars were "parting" and there was smooth sailing. The only problem I had was going through Southfield next to all the radio and TV transmitters. I am sensitive to RF / EMF and I always get a headache through there. After the trip to Ferndale was Novi, Milford, Bloomfield Hills, and a few more. My day was mostly driving (160 miles). I got a call from the office around 11am asking me where I was at. I told them and they said to call when I was 15 minutes away. I called (thinking there was more work to do) and was asked "what do you want on your whopper" (shit, I am getting bacon on that MF'er). I got back and a whopper meal was waiting for me, bought by one of the managers (bonus!). After that, more driving where I noticed that due to the warm weather, there were many females out jogging with tank tops on (also bonus!). I saw a few guys "basketballing" snowballs into a dumpster behind an oil change. Everybody was just in a pumped up good mood due to the weather I am guessing. The only weird thing I saw all day was a sign that said "hurting after abortion?" with some 800 number to call for help. I thought how ridiculous of a question that is. Somebody is supposed to not be hurting? Weird. Anyway, towards the end of the day I bought a 2 dollar scratch off ticket (I usually buy either a 2 dollar or 1 dollar scratch off every Friday) and won 10 bucks off it! I did get a bit of exercise when I had to setup a hospital bed down in the basement of a house with 2 flights of stairs. I partially worked off the whopper anyway.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ham radio stuff and an active morning mind

Regarding a previous post referring to the Clegg 22'er. I have noticed that my mind is very active in the morning lately. My alarm is set for 7am but I usually hit the snooze about 3 times and don't get up until 7:30. Between Jamie milling about, clanking his cereal spoon and Andrew "writing" new songs in his head and singing them aloud in his bed, it is a moot point to try to fall back asleep. I usually lay there in a limbo state unable to turn my mind off. I have noticed during this state that I have many "revelations". The most recent, from today was the fact that I realized that the fact that my Clegg 22'er is not broke but simply needs a microphone wired to it. As much as I hate wiring mics, it has to be done. The manual is not exactly clear on how the "SPOT" feature on the radio works. It says "change the knob to spot and it will resonate the harmonic frequency of the crystal". I tried that and the crystal does not resonate. OK, well, what I didn't obviously realize until my mind activity period this morning is the fact that maybe the radio needs to be keyed in a transmit state first? It is a long shot, but the bottom line is that a mic needs to be wired just to see if the rig even transmits before I give up on it. Looks like I will be hitting radio shack Friday on my travels to grab a phono plug to wire up.

Also, I ordered a full size G5RV dipole The antenna is 102 feet in length and I will have to manipulate it a bit to get it to work. It should be a lot better than the 52 foot long JR version I have now. It should also get me on 75 and 80 meters now which is important for contests. Since the Michigan QSO party is coming up next month, this should do the trick. Tomorrow is supposed to be close to 50 degrees, so it should be OK for a quick "hanging". My current antenna is in need of replacement anyway. I have repaired the wire part already due to the lawn service "whacking" it and cutting it in half while it was down. I have also repaired the 350 OHM twin lead very crudely with electrical tape (also due to the "whacking"). I told Steve (KD8EMZ) that he can have the G5RV JR to mess around with. Hopefully the full size gets me on 80/40/20 at least. I have an Antron 99 for 10/12/15/17 that I can use in full contest mode, or when the DX is rollin'. The 2 meter / 70cm ground plane is coming down by the end of this month anyway so I can switch between the Antron, the 6 meter loop, and the 2 meter beams. I love the spring / summer!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No nap time? WTF!?!?!

I went to Andrew's Kindergarten orientation today with Piper. I have a few questions.

#1 - Why did the principal of the school keep calling it "Kinneygarden"?
#2 - Is everyone that has kids now look like they are 50 or am I getting really old?
#3 - How come they set such low standards for kids? ie. Learn how to spell your name / learn the alphabet ect. (Andrew is way beyond that crap).
#4 - Where the hell is nap time?

Someone asked about "nap time". I thought it was the most legitimate question of the night.
Remember nap time?

They used to turn the lights out and sometimes read to us and sing songs? We even had mats!!!

The answer was: "We don't have nap time for the kids. After they come in from recess, they have a 15 min period to take their shoes off and get their drinks" WTF?!?!?

I think this is absolute BS. That is the whole problem with the world today. Nap time not only gave you a chance to reflect on the mornings paste eating activities, it gave you a chance to wind down and relieve some stress. Lets face it, it is hard trying to cram all that learning into your small brain when all you want to do is run around.

Oh well. I guess my kid will never enjoy "nap time". Shit, they even have nap time in India where all our jobs are going.

Makes you think, huh?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top 5 Albums of all time

I have been thinking about this for a long time. What are the top 5 Music albums of all time? I will count them down with my thoughts. This is just my lame opinion. :)

#5 - The Cure - Wild Mood Swings. (1996)

I never was a real big Cure fan and still am really not. Piper introduced me to them right after we first met. It was tough to pick between this album and "Faith". Faith is a cool sounding album but as you will see as this list goes on, I am more into lyrics instead of the music. (Except for #1 as you will see) This starts will the track "Want" which goes for 2:19 with just music. The core of the song is great and has a good flow. The next track "Club America" is kinda weird / different but good. It doesn't really sound like Robert Smith, he changed his tone. Track 3 "This is a Lie" is pretty good but kinda brings you down at the same time. Track 4 "The 13th" picks up the mood a bit and almost makes you forget the angst of track 3. Nice use of horns as well. Track 5 "Strange Attraction really steps it up a notch. This is one of my favorites on the album. When I hear this song, I can't tell if I am supposed to be happy or sad. They nailed it! Track 6 "Mint Car" is a happy go lucky song that is bubblegumy and almost made to sound fake. This is the peak happiness of the album. Track 7 "Jupiter Crash" brings it back down to famous Cure levels of melancholy. This is a great song though. It reminds me of being outside with someone special and looking up at the stars and being overcome with a flood of mixed waves of emotions. Track 8 "Round & Round & Round" tries to pick up the pieces from Track 3 and 7. It is a valiant effort. Track 9 "Gone!" is an overall great sounding song with a good mix of emotions. Mostly this song just sounds like a bad motivational VHS tape from the late 80's, but in a good way. :) Track 10 "Numb" brings it back down a notch and makes you think. The song really isn't all about drug addiction I think. It is just about addiction in general. What is your "drug"? Track 11 "Return" makes the last attempt to bring it back up a notch with dutiful success. Track 12 "Trap" is where the album starts to wrap and and you are taken out on an almost angry yet relieved state. Track 13 "Treasure" sounds at first to take you back down to sad, almost upset even. The more you listen to it however, the more you realize that it is more of a reflection on the past. The past is the past, you can't do anything about it. Track 14 "Bare" the final song. This song wraps it up pretty well. A wild mood swing roller coaster of emotions. Don't hide all your wild mood swings, "Bare" everything. It makes for a much easier time.

#4 - The Church - Starfish (1988)

Most people forget / forgot about this album / this band. This is really the only album that I like from them. Track 1 "Destination" is a great song from start to finish. A great way to start the album. My 2nd favorite song on the album. Track 2 "Under the Milky Way". Most people have heard this song on the radio during the 90's at some point. Another great song overall, not the best on the album. Very strong lyrically and gets an A- for bagpipe usage in a rock song. Track 3 "Blood Money" is probably my least favorite song on the album but starts getting the album ready for the upbeat songs. Track 4 "Lost" is a good song overall. It reminds me of the band "Soul Asylum" and their style of music. Track 5 "North, South, East, West" picks it up a bit and gets a little more rocky sounding. Good song overall with a good mix of slowness and heaviness. Track 6 "Spark" keeps the up beat rock sound going. This song is almost borderline punk sounding. Track 7 "Antenna" is my favorite song on the album (and no, not because I am an amateur radio operator). This song makes you really think about what it means (GASP!!! Not intelligent rock!). Track 8 "Reptile" is easily my 3rd favorite song. It gets high marks for the cool guitar riff and the comparison of a significant other to a snake. Track 9 "A New Season" slows it back down a bit. A good song and very listenable. Track 10 "Hotel Womb" wraps up the album well. Another song that make you think.

#3 - Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (Double Album, 1975)

Well, what can you say? Led Zeppelin. You either like them or you don't. Most people don't. Either they don't get them, or they think they are overplayed / overrated. Think what you will, this is a great album. Track 1 "Custard Pie" is a typical sounding Led Zeppelin tune and a good way to start the album. Track 2 "The Rover". This is one of my favorite Zeppelin tunes. It doesn't sound like much of the rest of their music and really showed what they are capable of. Track 3 "In My Time Of Dying". Awesome song! This song absolutely rocks out. This is also one of my favorite Zeppelin tunes. Track 4 "Houses Of The Holy" is also a later album name. This song is not the best and the only bad thing about the whole album. If you can get through it, many treasures await! Track 5 "Trampled Under Foot". A good rocky / bluesy song that is typical Zeppelin. Not as bad as the previous track. Track 6 "Kashmir". Alot of people hate this song and call it monotonous. I think it is a great song, especially the orchestrated sound of it. Track 1 Album 2 "In The Light". This is where those treasures I was referring to start. This song is great from beginning to end. You can't find anything bad about it. I remember listening to this song constantly when I was about 17 years old. Track 2 Album 2 "Bron-Yr-Aur". Awesome Jimmy Page acoustic guitar style. Need I say more? Track 3 Album 2 "Down By The Seaside". This song sounds nothing like typical Led Zeppelin. The song is an absolute masterpiece. It makes you want to go to the ocean and "just sit". Track 4 Album 2 "Ten Years Gone". This song is also far from sounding like typical Zeppelin. Once again, one of those treasures I was telling you to hold out for. Track 5 Album 2 "Night Flight". Now we are getting back to typical Zeppelin sounding tunes (which is not entirely bad). Track 6 Album 2 "The Wanton Song". Awesome. This song rocks out as well. I can almost picture Jimmy Page with his patented "fish look" playing the guitar with his head going back and forth. :) Track 7 Album 2 " Boogie With Stu" is a feel good out right jammin' song that makes you wanna dance. Track 8 Album 2 "Black Country Woman". You have to like blues to like this song. Period. Track 9 Album 2 "Sick Again" is a good way to end it all. Just in case anybody was wondering if they still had their "Zeppelin" sound or if it was coming back for the next album.

#2 Rush - Presto (1989)

This album should be number 1, but as you will see, number 1 is number 1 because of what it is and cannot be trumped by even the almighty Canadian power trio. I am a huge Rush fan. Most Rush fans will tell you that this is their worst album (I think Vapor Trails is). This album is a lyrical masterpiece throughout. I really think this is / was the peak of Rush. Track 1 "Show Don't Tell". This is my least favorite song on the album and it is a great song. You get the idea. A bad song on this album is not really bad. I really just don't like the chorus on the song, the rest is fine. Track 2 "Chain Lightning". Wow! This song is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. It takes you to a warm summer night, possibly away from city lights with storms "firing" on the horizon, sky blanketed by stars and a feeling of pure energy in the air. Track 3 "The Pass". This song starts out with a strange / different but good bass line. This song takes you to a changing point in your life. A point in ones life full of important decisions. The choices are laid out for you. Everybody goes through it and the bottom line is the fact that no matter what you choose it will most likely be the wrong decision in your mind but possibly the best decision you will make. Track 4 "War Paint". Also another song about life decisions. Dealing with more of a younger version or oneself that is confused and scared. A version of oneself that you don't understand until you are much older and experienced in life. Track 5 "Scars". A metaphorically inquisitive song that deals with oneself wearing their emotional scars in the open. The drumming on this song is superb Neil Peart quality. The song overall reminds you how powerful the human mind is. Track 6 "Presto". Well, here it is. My second favorite Rush song. Separation angst mixed with a bit of felling sorry for yourself with a dab of self realization. Track 7 "Superconductor". My 3rd favorite Rush song. Rush has never done anything before that sounds close to this song. This song is very dark and evil without sounding like it. That's actually quite difficult to do. This song sounds kinda upbeat and "poppy" but something is not quite right. Something underlying is going on but you can't quite figure it out. Brilliant! Track 8 "Anagram (For Mongo)". I am not quite sure what to thing of this song. It is a song about how things are not always as they seem? (no, that was the previous song). The beauty of this album is the fact that you take something different away from it on every listen. Track 9 "Red Tide". By far the most "upbeat" song on the album, if you can call it upbeat. A song about how life is too short to be worried about all of the BS out there. Live your life and be happy, not scared. Track 10 "Hand Over Fist". The album is winding down now. This is not one of their best, but certainly listenable. A good prelude to the end. Track 11" Available Light". Great way to end the album. There are lots of positive things out there, you just have to "learn" to look for them.

#1 - Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

I discovered it when I was 12 years old (like almost everybody did). 12 year olds are still discovering it. James (my 12 year old) will more than likely pick up on it later this year. The first time you hear it, it changes your life and your taste in music forever. I am not going to write a track by track review on this album. It would be like trying to disprove God or building a time machine just so you can create a paradox and destroy the entire space time continuum. From beginning to end, pure genius, all the bullshit aside about Wizard of Oz and how overplayed the album is.

In the words of the great Ted Nugent "If you don't eat meat, you have shit for brains"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Flea Market! C'mon Ya'll

LOL! Glen just sent this to me:

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I have decided to take all of the FEMA online courses here:

There are 63 in all. I already have taken IS-2 in the past which is not on there for some reason. Most of it will just be review for me but it is always good to have a refresher. I was thinking of all the emergency training that I already had and figured since these courses are free, I might as well take them.

The training that I have currently, off the top of my head:

Firefighter 1
Firefighter 2
Hazmat Awareness
Hazmat Operations
Basic Incident Command
Skywarn Weather Spotter
C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team)
Medical First Responder
Non Screened A.E.D.

I have affiliations with the following:

Oakland County Emergency Response and Preparedness
ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service)
RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service)

I guess I just figured that the more training, the better. The fact that it is free and online is good too. I helped out last year with a tornado devastated area and it was a good feeling to lend a helping hand. Most of the help I provide now is just radio communications, but with the C.E.R.T. class I just took, hopefully I can do a little more.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Andrew is wigged out.

OK.. I didn't mean to wig out Andrew... Honest. Last night, I was informed by Piper that the shelf above his head was "barely screwed into the wall". I made a statement that it should be taken down because it could fall on Andrew in the middle of the night. At this point Andrew did not want to sleep in his bed. He was convinced that the shelf was going to fall on him and crush him in his sleep. I took the shelf down to alleviate any problems. Earlier that day, I came home from work to find Blue toilet paper. This is the first time I have ever had colored toilet paper in the house. I might have mentioned (loudly) while on the toilet that blue toilet paper gives you ass cancer. Big mistake. I got a call from Piper today while I was at work that Andrew would not go number 2 because he didn't want cancer and the blue toilet paper was bad... I had to explain to Andrew (in front of everybody at work) that I was just kidding and the blue toilet paper was fine to use. After 2 or 3 rounds of his inquisitiveness, he finally bought into it and all was well.

Lesson learned: Watch what is said in front of Andrew, he is a very smart almost 5 year old who really "listens" to what his dad has to say.

Maybe I should start talking about how cool doctors are.. Doctors that buy their balding dads red Corvettes.

As a side note. Ray informed me today that his grandpa (who died from colon cancer) had pink dyed toilet paper in his house.. :(

So I married a ?

Don't ask... It was one of those nights.. All is well now. I think.

Ham radio stuff update

OK... So I got the transmit crystal in the mail. It fits! However.. The radio has a spot feature that is supposed to transmit the harmonic of the crystal... NO JOY! It does not.. Does that mean the transmitter is crapped out? The only solution is to wire up a phono plug mic (groan) because the mic I got in the mail was a 3 pin mic, not a phono as I was led to believe. Anyhow, either the radio transmit and the spot feature is broke, of the crystal is bad.. Maybe this weekend will lead to a mic wiring party (groan).. Maybe this radio will just be "offed" at the Milford swap in April.. We will see.