Sprinkler System Installation

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This past week we finally started a project that we’ve been saving for a long time.  We’ve talked about installing a sprinkler system for years but never got around to doing it.  On Thursday, April 13th we had Oklahoma Irrigation install our system for us.  They were over half way through when it began to rain.  They had to stop work until it was over and dried up a bit.  It was too wet to work on it the next day, yesterday.

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They were going to come back yesterday but it was too wet. It looks like tomorrow (Easter) it is scheduled to rain again so they may not even be back on Monday.  We’ll see how conditions are.  I will never complain about getting rain so to me, I am okay with the delay.  Yes, the lawn is torn up but this is the third year in a row so I think we can handle it.  The first year, we had a storm shelter installed, then it was the ham radio tower pad and finally, now it is the sprinkler system.  I guess this will force our hand on dealing with the non grass around the storm shelter (cellar).  We are going to have to place some sod around it to get it growing now so that we don’t have erosion.  We’ve been holding off for this very project to get completed.

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As you can see in these pictures, the lawn is a real mess.  We wanted to mow it and edge it last weekend but could not because the utility companies had to come out and mark the locations of their lines across the lawn.  They did this with paint and flags so I could not mow the flags over.  I can’t wait to get this project complete and the lawn begin to repair itself.  I’ll keep you posted with more pictures as it moves forward.

Finally Some Rain

After nearly two months of no rain, we finally manage to get a couple inches of rain on March 28th.  Then we got another quarter inch on April first.  We need much more than that but it is a good start.  This morning I got up and it was really foggy and there were many birds singing loudly.  It is hard to imagine a better morning.  Of course, waking up to a rainy day would be better but I am satisfied for now. 🙂

We’ve had a great weekend with family visiting from out of town.  Yesterday we mowed the lawn for the first time though it was the second time for my dad’s lawn.  The only reason we made it this long on our lawn was because we have no weeds and the Bermuda grass is slow to turn green.  We are very blessed to have a pretty lawn this year.  I just hope the rain continues so that we can end this horrible drought.  I am very thankful for the rain we received.

I will continue to post on this blog and try my best to avoid politics.  It is not worth the arguing that ensues. 🙂

Trip to Tucson

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The last week of February we took a trip to Tucson, Arizona for my wife’s work and I tagged along.  Tucson is where my wife and I had our first home together after we got married.  I was in the Air Force and was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB.  We have lots of wonderful memories there and so I didn’t want to miss this trip.

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In this picture we were standing on the balcony of our hotel room at the Radisson Suite Hotel. We chose this hotel for a specific reason. My wife use to work at this hotel when we lived there but since we were young and low income at the time, we could never afford to stay there when we actually lived there.

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I had to take a picture of this billboard simply because anyone that has ever driven Interstate 10 (I-10) between El Paso, TX and Phoenix, AZ will remember these billboards. This is nothing more than a gas station and “The Mystery of the Desert”.  There are literally hundreds of these billboards on this stretch of freeway.

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In this picture you can see the white sand as we travel the road between Alamogordo and Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I’ve been past this spot many many times as my mom was born in Fair Acres, NM, just outside of Las Cruces. We’ve traveled to that part of the state so many times that I can’t count.

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In this picture you can see the New Mexico state line coming from Arizona on Interstate 10 (I-10).  The Land of Enchantment is a phrase that I’ve heard hundreds of times over my lifetime due to my mom being from there.  I have great love for my family that still lives there. That is a very beautiful state that feels like home to me.  I really miss my mom and being able to go see my family there, is one way that I can stay close to her.  We lost my mom in 2005 and as you can imagine, there is no amount of money that could amount to the value of spending another minute with my mom.  Going to New Mexico, the place that she always called home and loved so much sort of makes me feel close to her.

I hope to be able to go back and see my family as often as possible.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures. To see the entire album on Flickr, just click on any one of them and you’ll be taken to the unedited full resolution versions.

Digital Mobile Radio (DMR)

Lately I’ve been playing around with DMR as it seems to be the new game in digital amateur radio.  I was late joining digital radio as I just got my first D-Star radio with the Icom ID-5100A back in July just to find out that all of the D-Star repeaters have gone off the air or I can’t reach them.  I thought about maybe trying Yaesu’s System Fusion (C4FM) because it seems to be pretty cool as well but the adoption seems to be slow.  Here in the Oklahoma City area it seems that DMR is the direction that seems to be winning the digital game.

I recently bought the new TYT MD-380 and installed the newest firmware, MD-380 tools by WH6AV, the full DMR ID database installed and I have to admit that I love it.  All of the local DMR repeaters are connected 24 hours on time slot two on the Brandmeister, OK Central, talk group, 31401.  Time slot one is reserved for connecting to remote repeaters and talk groups.  The remote connections will drop after 15 minutes of local inactivity.  I would like to thank local hams Jesse, KD5JP and Bob, W5RLW for immense help on educating me, my brother (WX5DEL) and my dad (W5QO) in the operation of DMR.

We are teetering on whether we want to go in this direction or not with our own repeater(s). While we love it, we want to make sure that people are willing to adopt the technology.  There is quite the learning curve in the beginning but to me it is worth it. My fear is that like the old Beta-max VCR being the better technology to VHS is that people may not appreciate it.  I am a fan of Linux, and the security, custom-ability.  The problem with Linux is the attitude of the users and their seemingly elitist mentality that nothing is better than the command line.  While I too enjoy it, the reality is that society has gotten use to everything being a large, colorful, button like Apple promotes.  Until Linux users understand this, it will never be accepted widely outside of those that are technology oriented.  That is my fear of DMR.  I hope that more manufacturers take advantage of the open source technology and make equipment more widely available.

On a similar note, I’ve noticed that despite Ibiquity’s in band on channel (IBOC), so called HD Radio, it lacks industry adoption.  It is not that consumers are not interested but rather that manufacturers do not include the technology in new cars.  I am a firm believer that people would love to have HD Radio in their cars if manufacturers would include it. Most people don’t want to spend a lot of money to add it as a feature after the fact.

DMR in the amateur radio service has a huge potential and I really hope it succeeds long term.  I hope that Icom and Yaesu do not try to protect their technology by failing to make equipment that used DMR.  If they are going to do that, then I think if they genuinely wanted to help the consumers, they would make radios that had DMR, D-Star and System Fusion capabilities.  Let the market choose the technology they want. If they build a quality product and make it easier for the consumer to plug and play, I believe people will come.

I think that we are leaning more toward the idea that DMR is here for the long term than the other way around.  The reason is that most hams are by definition technology oriented and as such, more willing to take the time to learn it. If there is an appearance that most people are adopting it, then others will join. Let’s be honest, people are followers as can be proven by political parties spending millions of dollars doing polls on a daily basis.  I personally think that it is worth the time to learn DMR.  After all, D-Star has been out for years, System Fusion has been out for a couple of years and yet, here in the Oklahoma City area, DMR rules the day and yet not one of the major amateur radio manufacturers has even one radio to use.

This is my opinion and I really hope that it pans out this way because it is really a cool technology.

Over Priced Light Bulbs

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I am sure that I am not the only one that feels this way but man!  These light bulbs claim two years, six years and even ten year life span as this one claims.  As you can see, this $10.00 light bulb was installed July 19, 2015 and while it did last a record 22 months for us, this bulb claimed it would last ten years on the box.  This is an LED that did work longer than any compact fluorescent bulb that I have tried but still, for $10.00, that is not long enough since I have a house full of these.  Our house uses about 50 light bulbs throughout and so you sort of hope they’ll last a while.  In fairness, there are some bulbs that we bought the same day that are still working.  It just seems that all these promises of long life, environmentally friendly bulbs never seem to pan out.  Oh well, at least we still have good health.  I’m done ranting.

Wildfires

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We recently had a wildfire not too far from our house due to the drought and high winds. It has been so dry the last few months that wildfires has become common. We’ve been in a red flag fire warning for so long that I can’t even remember. Thankfully this fire did not damage any homes except for a mobile home.  There was a lot of grass burned but property was for the most part spared.

New Fence

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Recently we had a new fence installed in our yard that we are very proud of. This is six foot steel fence that sits on top of a concrete barrier all the way around the yard.  Our old fence was the standard wood stockade type fence that gets old looking in short order

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I can’t say enough about what a great job they did installing it. We used a company called Iron Tough Vinyl Fence. While we did not go with the vinyl, they were very professional and did a more than satisfactory job.  The best part is that it is paid for and we do not owe them anything.  My wife and I have been talking about doing this for a long time but we wanted to wait until we could afford to get it done. We had many colors to choose from but we finally decided on the brown color with the tan trim.

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In this final picture, you can see the tan trim a little better. Please ignore the two Crape Myrtle stumps in front of the fence. 🙂  They will grow back thick before you know it. They have to be trimmed back at the end of the season anyway and this allowed the fence workers to get in there without tree limbs in their face.  As you can see in the pictures, there are no leaves on the trees as this was done in February.  That explains the lack of flowers in the flower bed. 🙂  I won’t lie, the fence was expensive though I will not reveal what we paid for it. To us, it is worth it because we live in the city and it gives us the privacy that we desire.  When we moved back into the city, we were concerned that we would not have the privacy that we had at our old house.  This allows us to be in the backyard and not see a single person or window of a neighbor’s house.  It was worth every dime to us and we would definitely recommend one for anyone.

Missed Thunderstorms

Wow!  Yesterday had such hype and anticipation of thunderstorms that I could barely contain myself.  I had actually allowed myself to get excited at the idea that we are going to get some severe thunderstorms.  I anxiously awaited the entire day as we received nothing in the form of rain, wind, lightning or even a rumble of thunder.  I guess if I should be upset at anyone, it should be myself.  We’ve been in a drought for so long and the ground is cracking in our lawn to a point that we desperately need rain.

It is not as if the meteorologists were wrong about the forecast, because there were some storms around, just not here.  I am a storm enthusiast and love severe weather. I just long for Spring thunderstorms every year and get excited when they come but this time, I was really disappointed. I was so ready to experience the excitement of a good storm and all we  had was sun.  I’ve long decided that you cannot listen to what the meteorologists say.  Usually if you read their charts with the sound muted,  you get a pretty good picture of reality.  Yesterday, most were speaking of what time the storms were supposed to begin, yet their charts said a 40% of precipitation.

I should have gotten a clue by such a low chance of rain but I allowed myself to get worked up and excited just to be let down.  It is strange that it bothered me so much that it missed us but it really did.  I went to bed last night feeling such a let down which seems kind of silly when you think of it. Nevertheless, I was really really bummed when I went to bed.  This morning I woke up with a pounding headache and a stopped up head.  I think some of that is just allergies since after all, it is Spring and many trees and flowers are trying to bloom despite not having any water.

I guess my being bummed is one reason that I don’t really get into sports that much. I allow myself to get into the game so much so that I get really down if my team loses. 🙂  It seems pretty immature when you say it but that is me. I got to experience my first tornado at about five years old and the excitement was so much that I’ve been hooked ever since.  Without a doubt, storm season is my favorite time of the year. Hopefully we’ll get more opportunities and this drought can be a thing of the past.  I’ll keep you posted if things change.  Thank you for stopping by.

Happy New Year 2017!

Good morning and Happy New Year!  It is good to start off another year with the blessing of God. Wow!  My parents always warned me that as you get older the time will go faster. I think I’ve discovered that fact to be true.  Despite the perceived speeding up of time, I feel blessed to be living in a time where God’s presence is so obvious.  I say it is obvious if you are looking.  My first prayer for 2017 is that we get rain and lots of it this year.  The last year  has been such a drought and we need rain very badly.

It is also my prayer that our family’s health continues to prosper and that God gets the credit.  As wonderful as 2016 was, I am sure 2017 will be even better.  Let’s all be thankful that we have life and health on this new year.

Thank you for stopping by,

Paul

What a Great Year 2016 Was

I like to think of 2016 as a year of new beginnings. We accomplished a lot of things in this year that a couple years ago would have seemed impossible. Chief among them is reaching a point where we do not owe on any loans except for the house and that will be gone soon.  You can’t put a price on the value of the freedom that comes with being debt free.  Last year in our attempt to become debt free, we downsized back into the city and we’ve not regretted it for a moment.  While I loved the large house and large property, the stress that comes with the debt and maintenance of such a place took away any joy that I may have had.  We’re getting to a point in our lives where being happy is more important than status.  I can’t stress that point enough.  Even at work, I genuinely enjoy my job and have no desire to climb the ladder anymore.  Some people think I am crazy to have gone to college and not desire to go as high as I can. While I can understand that, people need to understand that I have reached a level that makes me and my family happy and it pays good.

It is a good feeling knowing that I have a great job, a rapidly decreasing debt and the time to spend with the family that I love so much.  At some point, I was working toward my future career goals and discovered that life was passing me by while my family was growing up and passing me by.  To say that we’ve been blessed is hardly clear enough to say how good we have it.  I truly believe in God and his blessing through grace. When I say grace, I mean it in the true sense of the word, “undeserving favor”.  My family is truly happy, healthy and love each other. While my dad did have a heart attack in July, it was discovered that he had blockages and were fixed with a couple of stints.  He is as healthy as can be and since those were dealt with, things are great.  He is doing so well that you wouldn’t know about his hospital stay in July.  God is good!

As you can tell, this blog is about 1,200 posts smaller.  This year I decided that it was not worth keeping thousands of old posts. While it did tell an interesting history lesson over the happenings our our family, it was the past.  I decided that it was time to start over fresh and not dwell on the past.  For that reason, this is the first post of the restart.  Tonight is the end of 2016 and the start of 2017.  Yes, I pronounce them twenty seventeen, not two thousand seventeen.  It is a personal preference since I was born in the nineteen hundreds. I didn’t say I was born in the one thousand, nine hundreds :).  Anyway, Happy New Year and I hope you the happiness that my family enjoys in JESUS’ name!