Hello World!

Wow! My last post was in January, three months ago.  I just got tired of messing with it and disabled my page a couple months ago and this afternoon decided to reactivate it.  The weather has certainly changed since January, when I posted last.  Well… The drought has continued and even intensified since then but it has really warmed up. It is April 5th and it is 86 degrees with a howling South wind about 45 MPH.

We are really struggling to get a lawn going because we just can’t get any meaningful rain this year.  In fact, right now there are several wildfires out of control, just North of Oklahoma City, as I type this.  If things continue the way they are, it is going to be a hot dry year.  What else is new? It seems like other than last year’s rain, we’ve been in a drought since 2008. I am trying to become more active in my ham radio hobby but it seems like my equipment doesn’t want to cooperate. 🙂  My base antenna is missing pieces, my dipole disappeared, my mobile died in my truck.  My mobile antenna snapped in half pulling into the drive way. My base radio quit working and I’ve been trying to save up for my antenna tower.  One by one, my ham radio gear has been dying off faster than I can replace them. 🙂  Well, soon I’ll be able to get caught up on all of it breaking and maybe make some head way fixing or replacing each piece.

I just wanted to post a message to say that I am back online and will update this blog from time to time.  Thank you for stopping by.

Nice Long Weekend

It is time to return to work after a three day weekend with Martin Luther King Day.  It stayed cold throughout the weekend as you might expect on a January.  My wife and I had some relaxing time off and really enjoyed it.  Now that she no longer works her second job, we are able to finally have some relax time together.  That job was supposed to be a temporary situation that turned out to be five years.  I know she loved it but it was really a burden to me.  I had gotten use to being by myself all weekend sitting around the house and now that she is home, I have to consciously make myself get out of the house.

It is strange but I have to force myself to get out and do things.  Now that it is time to get back to work, we’ll have a new burst of energy to get things done.  I say that but this morning I woke up at 3:15 AM so I may be getting tired earlier than usual this afternoon and evening.  I am hopeful that it may help prevent having insomnia this evening at bed time.  Lately I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep at bed time and I know it is all in my head.  I better get this posted and start getting ready for work

Lost Spark for Photography

After moving out into a house that was just beyond our means, I was stuck at home for many hours with nothing to do. It was too far to drive anywhere and it seemed that my photography of people was getting on their nerves.  Over the last couple of years, I have really lost my interest in taking pictures the way I use to.  I think I may try to get back into it some more.

My mom use to never let anyone take pictures of her and  now she is gone.  She has been gone for almost 11 years and I have very few pictures of her to remember her by.  For this reason, I have been very aggressive in taking pictures without asking for permission.  My thoughts were that even if they didn’t like it, at least we would have memories of them.  It was clear that my taking pictures has been getting on people’s nerves and you can tell by the look on people’s faces that they are dreading it when I get the camera.  There are times when I have taken my camera places with me and never even got it out of the car when I get there.

For this reason among others, I have lost interest in taking pictures.  Maybe not lost interest, but lost my enthusiasm. Occasionally I snap a shot or two no my phone but it is not the same.  I always try to back up my phone so that I never lose those pictures.  What I may do is just not take pictures of people and snap photos of landscapes and things.  I really enjoy taking pictures and even if no one else likes it, I get some peace from doing it.

I have too many hobbies to be able to afford them all.  Probably my favorite is my ham radio hobby.  The problem with that one is that not only is it expensive, as all hobbies are, it takes me away from the family.  My dad was into ham radio before I was born and I really enjoy it as well as feeling closer to him when I am on the radio.  Now that my wife and brother have ham radio licenses, it is even more cool.  I have also been into computers for as long as I’ve been into ham radio.  I’ve had a computer since 1983 and often use it with my ham radio hobby.  I often use ham radio hobby with photography as well.

I will try to slowly get back into taking pictures again. Now that I have the cameras, it doesn’t cost that much, other than the gas it takes to go somewhere. My ham radio hobby has to start all over again.  When I moved in 2010, I got rid of much of my ham radio gear and since it is so expensive, I have to save up to buy each piece back.  It will take over a year to get my antenna back.  I still have my main radio but it died on me so it doesn’t work anymore.  Taking pictures gets me something I can do without spending a lot of money.

Happy New Year 2016

Can you believe it is already 2016?  This year went pretty quick and was also a great year for us.  It was nice to have a year where most things went well and everyone had great health.  I am very thankful for the year we had in 2015 and look forward to an even better year in 2016.  God has been so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways.  I pray that all of our family and friends will have great health and prosperity in 2016.  Even more importantly they will come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.  After all, you can earn money until your dying day but when the day comes to spend eternity, none of it will even matter.

I am thankful to God for allowing me to come to Jesus in 1986, 30 years ago when I had no direction in life.  I’ve made more than my fair share of bad decisions and thankfully God is good enough to forgive them.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 KJV

I may not have everything this world has to offer but I have even better with the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my personal sins.  I can’t think of anything better than that.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 KJV

You too can have that assurance by believing in the gospel that is that Jesus’ death on the cross saved all of us that have faith and believe.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 KJV

Last Day of 2015

It is December 31st, 2015, the last day of the year.  This has been a very eventful year.  We sold our old house, lived in an apartment for a while and then moved into another house all in this year.  We are back home in Del City where we belong.  I often have people ask me why I would live here but I guess it is hard to explain.  Not all of Del City is “the hood”.  I live in a nice area, things are close by and I am only four driving miles to downtown Oklahoma City.  I live less than a half mile from a Walmart Supercenter.  This is usually where someone chimes in to give me condolences but I really like Walmart.

We got more house than we were looking for and it was cheaper than we expected.  I live about 200 yards from my junior high school.  I’ve been a lot of places over my lifetime with the Air Force and I have to say that it is a great feeling to be home.  My kids are now grown and living on their own.  I miss them being around but life is the way it is supposed to be.  I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions but I have to say that we are going to lose some weight and lots of it.  The timing of being at New Years is only because with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas being back to back, everyone is giving us food and it is very tough losing weight with all of that going on.

I have another goal this year and that is to get my radio antenna up. It has been down for more than two years.  I’ve let my ham radio hobby go by the way side for so long because of our living situation.  Anyway, twenty fifteen has been a good year for us.

Streaming Audio Setup

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As many of you know, we also have an Amateur (ham) Radio club with two repeaters.  One of them on 146.7 MHz has live streaming audio over the Internet.   This picture shows how it is set up.  On the left we are running a Raspberry Pi  computer running Raspian Linux.  The Radio Shack Pro-2051 scanner feeds the received audio from 146.7 MHz into the Raspberry Pi.  The computer is connected into this Apple Airport Extreme Router.  The Raspberry Pi is controlled remotely through secure shell (SSH).  Since we also have an IRLP (7734) and Echolink (164664) node connected to this router out of view, and it also uses SSH, I had to set this Raspberry Pi to use non standard ports so the router would be able to port forward the packets to the correct device.

The raspberry Pi is configured to send the packets to the Broadcastify.com server to be streamed out to the world.  This really works well because all we have to do is feed one stream and their servers give it enough bandwidth to serve many simultaneous streams.  The two devices to the right are not really relevant except that the white box supplies Internet to the router. The black device supplies phone service to the site.  Using Raspberry Pi reduces the power consumption to a fraction of what a desktop computer would use.  Unfortunately with these ice storms, there is nothing that can save us from Internet outages for those.  I just thought I would show a little bit of how we do this.

Snow Storm of our Lifetime

Snow Storm 12/28/2015

This is a picture that I took this morning at 7:50 AM out our front door.  This is the final view of a historic winter storm that we’ll likely remember forever. While this  is no where near as dramatic as the picture I just painted for  you, it is entertaining that just yesterday one of our local meteorologists was saying that we were going to get 8-10 inches of new snow on top of this over night and that it would go down as one of the worst winter storms of our lifetimes.

I feel bad teasing him but he does this quite often where we get two weeks of buildup for a storm as though it is going to be so historic that people will be talking about it for generations.  That may not be how this one is remembered but it is still nice in my eyes.  While there may be some slick roads, I appreciate the blessing of the moisture we get out of every storm system.  As you may know, here in Oklahoma City area, we are very near the 100th meridian where rainfall is scarce and sometimes we go through some serious droughts while other times we get nice rains.

I learn to appreciate the rains when we get them and this storm brought us a little over three inches of rain before the cold temperatures arrived.  I love any storm system that comes through and this one was also nice.  Our lights blinked a few times last night due to high winds and freezing drizzle.  The temperatures hovered right around 32 degrees all day yesterday so the drizzle never really amounted to much.  The temps finally dropped to 27 this morning but by then, the vast majority of the moisture had past.

Most of what you see in this picture is about a half inch of sleet as there were very few snow flakes in this storm.  The road is clear because the weather was 64 degrees before the storm arrived.  The ground was very warm because a few days earlier it was 70 degrees and sunny.  It is supposed to clear up this afternoon and then get colder after it passes.   Hopefully we’ll see more storms like this in the near future.

Update December 28, 2015

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say that I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a good New Year this week. We had quite a few family members over for Christmas and we really enjoyed that. My son moved out on Christmas Day, evening so that took a little of the enjoyment away. For the last two weeks or so we have been hearing about this historic storm system that was going to bring massive amounts of snow to our community. The way it ended up was that we did receive about three inches of rain and then about one half inch of sleet along with a little drizzle. It was not the massive blizzard or winter storm that we envisioned but I am happy because we did get some rain. Right now as I type this, the last band of moisture is moving out and there really isn’t much to it so we made out pretty well in this system.

My ham radio world has come to a virtual stand still as every radio that I own has gone out and I can’t find any of my antennas after we moved. My awesome brother did buy me a quad band TYT-9800 radio for Christmas. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I mean, I was down to a handie talkie (HT).

TYT-9800 my brother gave me.

I do have five sections of 55G tower sitting in the back yard for an eventual installation but we have been so tight financially that I could not afford the remaining pieces, much less have it installed. At my age, I am not going to install it myself. When I was younger, I helped install several of them but now, it is too dangerous and I don’t even own a safety harness.  This will result in a delayed installation until I can save up enough money to have it done.

My GAP Titan DX antenna is missing half the pieces after our move.  We had several loads to the storage when we sold our last house and the antenna was taken over in multiple loads and for that reason, I cannot find all the pieces to it.  My backup HF antenna, an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus is also missing after the move.  I have searched all over the place for that antenna and cannot find it.

To make matters worse, the only HF radio that I have, the Kenwood, TS-2000 radio has quit on me.  So I am at a situation where I have to start from the ground up with limited cash.  I am of the mind that I should just finish the tower and get it installed since I am over half way there and then start to save up to replace my aging, not working gear.

I’ve been a ham operator for 32 years and I am starting all over again.  I am really blessed to be where I am because many people have it far worse than I do.  One blessing that we’ve had this year was my brother getting his ham radio license.  His new call is WX5DEL and is studying for his General Class.  I am very excited about that.  Now my dad, me, my wife and my brother all have licenses.  One of my biggest blessings is that my wife is okay with this hobby and supports me. You can’t put a dollar amount on that.  God is good.

Christmas Baking

My wife has been cooking for nearly 24 hours doing nothing but baking.  As you can see in this photo, she made quite a bit of stuff so far s this picture was taken.

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My wife has always been a good cook and also a person that thinks of others.  She spent quite a bit of time making these and had a really good time.

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You can see the reindeer with these cookies that she made.  It was hard not eating them as she make them.  She had a friend help her decorate those in the picture below…

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Here are some Santas in the picture below.  I would like to tell you what is in them but I am not sure. I know there are pretzels, and a melted bite size candy bar between them. I am not sure of all the rest of the ingredients.

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You can only imagine that mess there is to clean up after this.  I am concerned that we’ll need one of those industrial garbage dumpsters to carry it off :). Anyway, she really loves doing things like this and I like watching her.  I did help on a few small things like opening containers and handing her the ingredients.  For the safety of those eating these, it is better that I not engage in trying to actually make something :).  I just wanted to share some of my wife’s work.

National Weather Festival 2015

Anyone that spends any time around me knows that I love weather.  I just can’t get enough rain, storms, snow, ice, etc.  I love enjoying whatever it happens to be as it comes through. On Halloween, 2015 the National Weather Center in Norman had its annual open house, or as they like to call it National Weather Festival.

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As a graduate of the University  of Oklahoma, I will refrain from giving my thoughts on the guy’s name on the bottom of this sign but I will say that we had a good time while here.

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This is the building where your severe weather alerts come from. There are many good people that work here and I follow most of them on Twitter.  Take not of the HF ham radio beam on the top.  That is an added bonus.

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Look at that!  The Del City Fire Department showed up to display their new fire engine. They were very nice people and took time to explain how each of the systems work.

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In this picture you can see one of the Oklahoma Mesonet stations that is fully operational, though it does not report its measurements on their web site like they do on the other sites.

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Here is one of their trucks.  I’ve been to many of these events and really enjoy them every time.  There are many of the local weather personalities from Oklahoma City and Tulsa that were there to meet the people. Also there were people putting on displays for the public inside the building.  I did notice this time they did not allow people to walk through the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) like they did in years past.  I can only assume that people were causing disturbances so they didn’t leave it open this time.

This truly was a treat as it always is.  They released several weather balloons throughout the day while people watched as they always do.  I always look forward to this event.  If you are a weather enthusiast like I am,  you may enjoy a weekly podcast called Weather Brains hosted by meteorologist James Spann from Birmingham, Alabama and our own Rick Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Norman.  They do this at the end of October every year. If you are ever going to be in the area, please stop by. I really think you will enjoy it.