Storm Season is Finally Back

It took long enough but finally storm season is back.  Yesterday we had a short thunderstorm with some hail.  In this picture you can see the hail in the backyard.

In this picture you can see the cumulonimbus clouds as they were approaching.  I really miss storm season and enjoy it when it returns.

In this picture you can see the approaching rain shaft coming in from the West.  At this point, I was not to optimistic that we would get any rain because the cold front was overtaking the line of storms.

In this picture you can see the anvil as it covers the sun as the storm gets closer. Taking pictures of the storm clouds is always fun.

In this picture you can see the storm after it past to the East.  You can see the mammatus clouds that look like puffy cotton balls.  This storm didn’t last long but considering that we’ve been in an incredible drought, any rain is welcome.  I sure hope this is the beginning of more rain.


This is the driest start to a year Oklahoma City has had in 60 years.  It is April and we still do not have two inches of rain for the year.  We are having some sprinkles right now and it is a welcome site.  We’ll take any rain at this point.  I’ve lost more than 50 trees in the last two years from drought and I am concerned that I am going to lose many more if it doesn’t rain soon.  We need a lot of rain over the course of several months.  We just pray in the name of Jesus that we can get some rain very soon.

My New Scanner

About a month ago, I bought a new police scanner, a nice and expensive one.  I bought the Uniden BCD536HP scanner.  I often like to listen to the Del City police and had noticed in recent days that my old scanner, a Radio Shack Pro-2051 was quiet most of the time.

What I hadn’t known was that the FCC had rebanded the 800 MHz spectrum, forcing people, businesses and public services to change frequencies to meet the new 800 MHz frequency spectrum.  What it did was make my old scanner obsolete where I could not hear many of the trunking systems.  Many newer model scanners had the ability to be reprogrammed to match the rebanding but not this model. It was essentially obsolete with respect to anything in the 800 MHz band.  That meant that I was out of luck because virtually every trunking system in the Oklahoma City area uses the 800 MHz band.

While this new scanner was expensive, I justified it with the idea that I will get more than 10 years of service from it.  My last scanner was over 10 years old already.  After having a scanner for so many years, it is hard to go without one.  I can sit here and listen to police, fire and emergency systems from as far as 50 miles away. Many local businesses and public service organizations are also on there.  It is a really cool hobby to have.

This scanner has some amazing features being pre-programmed with thousands of frequencies from the database. It updates the frequency database weekly and also allows you to create your favorites lists.  It has wifi capability to allow you to control and stream your scanner remotely via a wireless phone.  Of course these features are not yet available as of the posting of this blog post.  I definitely love this scanner and think it is worth the expensive price tag if you are a scanner enthusiast.  It has more than  enough features to make it a good purchase.

Drought Continues

In my last post, I mentioned that we’ve been in a continuous drought.  I also mentioned that I’ve not been doing much photography these days.  Well, I am going to break the cycle for a moment and show you this picture that I took with my phone (HTC One) a few days ago.  In this picture you can see the sun setting in the West with a cloud of dust in the air.  The lack of rain and the very windy conditions have caused us to have many dust storms like this one.  Also we’ve been having many wild fires prompting local officials to enforce burn ban after burn ban.  It seems that since 2007 we’ve been in a never ending burn ban.

Also we’ve been having earth quakes on regular basis. We’ve had nine of them in the last 24 hours.  I don’t buy the oil fracking excuse that many environmentalists try to use.

In this picture you can see the sky earlier in the day.  The sky looks white due to the dust.  There were no clouds that day so the non blue sky was all dust.  This seems to be the new norm these days.  While I would be concerned, if you look at history, Oklahoma has been through many many droughts over the last 100 years.  It should surprise no one since Oklahoma City is at 98 degrees West longitude, very close to the famous 100th meridian.  Just in case you are not familiar with the 100th meridian, it is a line running North and South at 100 degrees West longitude that is a symbolic point in North America where annual rain fall is 20 inches or less West of this line.  The 20 inch threshold usually requires irrigation to grow vegetation.  East of the 100th meridian line usually has more than 20 inches of rain annually and does not require irrigation to grow vegetation.

Oklahoma City is only two degrees East of this line so droughts are not that uncommon.  We have some years where we get a lot of rain due to tropical events that come North from the Gulf of Mexico.  In some cases these tropical disturbances can maintain their strength long enough to bring lots of rain to our area.   Other times, we go through long stretches of no rain.  When you add to this, the natural windy conditions, it blows up a lot of dirt in the sky.

Anyone that has seen the movie Grapes of Wrath can remember how conditions can be.  Oklahoma City is a wonderful place in the spring.  The severe thunderstorms and tornadoes often told about in the news are overstated to say the least.  While tornadoes do happen, they are very rare and hard to find.  As a storm enthusiast, I can attest to the difficulty it is to see one.  When we do have one, it gets so much media attention that you would believe that we have tornadoes every day.  I love thunderstorms and wish we did have them more often.  I don’t wish anyone to get hurt or have damaged property but there is just something amazing in watching a thunderstorm.

If you don’t get it, then you just don’t get it.  I understand that storms are not for everyone.  I sit with anticipation every year for Spring time to arrive hoping we are going to have some good stormy conditions.  I would have to admit that greater than 75% of the time, I am disappointed.  We just don’t have as many storms as people think we do.  It is now the end of March and I’ve not seen lightning in months.  Hopefully this drought will end soon and we can get some good weather again.  Maybe I will have something to take pictures of again.

I’m Back

Wow! It has been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything on here. One reason is that we’ve been trying to potty train a puppy and as you may know, that takes all of your time and ability to stay on top of them. In the last few months, blogging, ham radio and just about everything else has been taking a back seat to watching this dog. I’ve not even been taking many pictures except for a few with my phone as I am on the go. Since I’ve checked in last time, nothing has really changed. The drought continues and we can’t grow a lawn to save our lives. We just cannot afford to put a large sprinkler system in at this time. I did experience a scare with some chest pains about a month ago and spend a couple days in the hospital. I had many tests done and it does not have any evidence of heart problems or blockages.

That pretty says that I have too much stress. I won’t deny that. I think most everyone has stress and I don’t know if I would say mine is any worse than others. Yes I would… I am always stressed out from the moment I wake up until bed time. I have to make a conscious effort not to dwell on things. I avoid news as much as I can because there is no sense in worrying about something that I can’t change. That is easy to say but it is not as easy as people think. Since I lost my mom to a heart attack in 2005, I try to pay attention to these things. I had a birthday last week and that was nice, at least while my wife was here. Other than that, it was just another stressful day. This blog has taken such a back seat these days that it really has no direction. One of these days when I can get some time, I am going to refocus on things that interest me like severe weather, ham radio, photography and technology. Photography has lost its appeal in recent days because it seems to just cause problems when you post pictures of people when they don’t want to be online. I understand that but it seems that photography just doesn’t appeal to me much these days. I really want to avoid politics because while I do have passionate feelings about issues, it is something that just causes unnecessary stress. It is just easier for my sanity to accept the fact that both political parties do not have our interests at heart and leave it at that.

Life is just too short to sit around being stressed all the time. Thanks for stopping by.

Node Control By Phone

I found a pretty cool app online that allows me to control our IRLP/Echolink nodes by our phones. It is called Juice SSH. This Secure Shell (SSH) client is not the only one available but it does the job for me.  I love to be able to connect and disconnect all three of our nodes when I am mobile.  By using this app, I am able to take control no matter how much power a person is using.  As the control operator for our nodes, we have a responsibility to take control of the nodes when people are not adhering to FCC regulations.

You can set up as many accounts you want for free whether they be user accounts are super user accounts.  I am very happy with it and we have set up all of our control operators with it on their phones so that we can have managerial control.  If you run a linked repeater system, you should give it a try. It runs both telnet and SSH.

Things About Android That Anger Me

I hate Apple as a company so buying an iphone is something I really don’t like doing. Hard to believe that I’ve had my HTC One since it came out and still have the same Android 4.1 I had when it came out.  I hate to say it but I think I am going to go back to iphone where I can get timely updates.  This pains me to say.

Things that I hate about Android…

1. Contact list absolutely sucks.  When I had an iphone, I use to love the way I could update my contacts on my Gmail account and it would sync with my phone.  It did a very good job and I loved it. I use to rationalize with myself about how cool that was and how amazing it would be with Android since Gmail and Android were both Google.  My actual experience?  Disappointing at best. My contact list is filled with duplicates and I have not entered a single person on my phone. All of my contacts were entered on my Gmail account.  I pride myself on the orderly way I manage all of my contacts with their numbers and emails, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

2. Contacts list again.  Wow! Where do I start?  One thing that worked very well on my old iphone 4 was the ability to click once on one of my contacts and dial someone.  On this HTC One it takes Four clicks to call my wife and she is on my favorites.  Unbelievable!  I click the phone, then scroll to favorites, then click on my wife’s picture, then it brings up a list of her numbers and emails. I have to click on her number that I want to dial.  Nine times out of ten, I just dial a person’s number outright. The favorites are useless.

3. Updates…  This one really angers me. Android is all the way up to 4.4 now and I am still using 4.1 because Google allows the phone company to decide when we get updates. There are three updates available and I can’t even get one of them.

4. Notifications.  This is another one that gets me.  On the iphone, it has a notification on the icon of the program that has a message telling me how many messages I have.  It also has a lock screen preview of the message so I can see what the message is before opening it.  Many times I am in a meeting and cannot answer my emails without disrupting the meeting.  Also, where I work it is considered rude to be checking my phone during meetings.  Often, I have to wait until the meeting is over before I can check my messages.  On Android, you don’t get those notifications and it is easy to forget to remember to call someone back after the meeting is over.

Google has no excuse for the contacts list problems.  This one is unacceptable and really frustrates me.  Those that know me, also know that I passionately hate Apple for their gouging people on their prices.  They charge $2,000.00 for a 15″ laptop when I have two laptops that are 17″ that I paid $1800.00 for the both combined.
As much as this pains me, as soon as ipone gets a decent size screen where I can see the darn thing, I am going back.  While there are some things that I like about Android, some are just too much to overcome.  It should not take me four clicks minimum to dial my wife when she is in my favorites.

Our Puppy

Navidad by Paul L McCord Jr
Navidad, a photo by Paul L McCord Jr on Flickr.

We, I mean my wife got a new puppy Chihuahua for Christmas. We’ve discovered that she doesn’t like being cold and with the extended cold snap we’ve been having, she has not been able to go outside much. Today it was a nice 72 degrees and so she got to play outside quite a bit. She is as cute as can be. I just wanted to share what a cutie she is.

Another Sick Day

Last Friday I had believed that I had some bad food for lunch because I was really feeling awful and throwing up among other events. Usually when something like this happens, it is over in about 24 hours. This time, while I am improving, I am still not over it on Monday. Maybe there is more to it than just food poisoning this time. Anyway, it has been a rough weekend and I am glad to be improving at least a little bit.
I really hated to use another sick day at work but I am just not back up to the level that I should be at work. I am hoping tomorrow I will be better
We have family members coming in later today so I hope to be better.

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