Today Was The Big Day

After a long couple years, the graduation is over.  Today I graduated the University of Oklahoma putting a lot of stressful times away.  This is tough enough when you are 18 years old but when you are 43 and have a full family life and a full time job, it makes it even more of a challenge.  This day was supposed to be a huge moment and it was to a degree.  I feel like the whole event was under the influence of drugs.  I have not slept for more than three continuous hours in a week and the doctor gave me some itching medication for my poison ivy that really made me sleepy.

It was a good day though and I have a wonderful family that was there for me.  My beautiful wife Sunday shown in this photo has made so many sacrifices for me in our 20 years of marriage.  She sacrificed so much for me in getting this accomplishment done that I really do appreciate her.  She is testament to the Proverbs 31 woman spoken of in the Bible.  She is so incredible that words cannot express.

Now that I have this behind me, I can get back to life again.  The time involved in completing this goal has been amazing.  Our whole lives have been adjusted to make time for this.  God has been very good to us but has taken an unfortunate back seat to this goal.  It is time to put HIM first again and remember where my blessings come from.

Sunrise in OKC

Sunrise in OKC

It is hard to find anything more pleasing than a nice morning sunrise when you do not have to go to work.  The beauty of my situation this morning is that it is the end of the year and I have some use or lose vacation time that I have to burn so I took this beautiful Friday off.  Although it is a crisp 32 degrees at this early hour it still is a pretty morning.  This time last year we were sitting in the dark for a week.  You may remember the horrible ice storm that knocked out the electricity to more than 250,000 in Oklahoma City while more than a million state wide.  You can look at the photos I took here.  The weather forecast is showing another ice storm coming in next week though most believe it will not compare to the monster we had last year. Most people sleep in on their day off but not me.  I love mornings and I always have.  I went out to breakfast at the Waffle House at 5:30 this morning as she was going to work.  She could not take the day off because in her Wing they were having a General come to their office.  She had to be involved in the protocol activities so I had to do without my beautiful wife this morning.  As a second choice I thought I would spend my morning watching the sun rise over Oklahoma City.  I took this photo among others around 7:00 AM.

Below is another photo of downtown.  As you can see the Sandridge Energy and the Chase Bank both have crosses on the buildings representing the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us as we celebrate his birth on Christmas.  Now I sit here listening to 40 meters on ham radio while typing a blog post.  I wanted to get some pictures of the full moon but there were some clouds in the western sky.  I only have two more classes before I can graduate the University of Oklahoma.  I will start those on January 20, 2009 and I am very happy to have this journey almost complete.
Sunrise in OKC

This morning I found San Francisco 49’ers football star Jerry Rice and the Phoenix Suns star Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter.  That was pretty cool as well.  Now that we have the Oklahoma City Thunder I will have to temper my love for the Phoenix Suns.  As many of you know we use to live in Phoenix, Arizona while I was stationed at Luke AFB.  I also lived in Tucson, Arizona while stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB.  Those were some wonderful times of my life that I will never forget.  I lived in Phoenix during the great run of the Suns in 1993.  That is when I really became a fan of the NBA.

I had a very nice visit with my dad last night.  Many of you ham radio people may know him as W5QO, the trustee for the Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC).  It is hard to believe that experiment has lasted for six years.  It is hard to believe that in 2002 I was trying to kill time while my wife was spending time in the hospital visiting her mother has turned out to be a full blown ham radio club with an FCC license (W5DEL).  Though I had an amateur radio license since 1983 I was not very active because I could not afford the gear until my dad gave me a dual band mobile radio.  Now it is a whole different world where I have my own ham shack, President of the DCARC and a 70 foot tower in the back yard and all this since 2002.

This year just does not feel much like Christmas with my 16 year old son gone.  He ran away on 26 Sep 08.  He is safe and staying with friends.  I spoke to him briefly on Yahoo Instant Messenger the other day.  We have decided to let him go and put faith in God that he will overcome and have a successful future.  Many have told me to file charges against the people that he is staying with but I think that would just make things worse.  My goal is to retain a relationship with him for the future and hope that he remains well.  Thank you for those that have offered their prayers of support.  We have decided to keep faith in God and enjoy life.  My other son got his driver’s license a couple days ago and we added him to our insurance.  Once I came too and realized that we really could afford the extra $100 per month premiums I was fine. :) I am happy for him as he just got a job at a local restaurant a couple weeks ago.  Despite everything I am very proud of both of my kids.  Once I graduate, I will have more time to do some hobbies that I have neglected for the last couple years.  I love taking pictures and talking on the radio.  Of course let’s not forget my big hobby of playing on the computer.  Thankfully today with amateur radio and photography joining with computers I can do all of them at the same time.

Again, it is a beautiful morning and I am off work too.  With no homework this weekend I am sure to have a nice weekend.  I only wish my wife could have taken off work.  That would have made it perfect.

January 12, 2008 Update

Good morning everyone,

I am anxiously awaiting the sun to return and the temperature to rise a bit.  Every since the ice storm in December, life has been out of order.  We have been slowly getting back to normal.  Yesterday was a big step in getting back to normal when the city of Del City’s contractors came to pick up the broken tree limbs and debris from my street.  There was so many branches in front of my house that I could only see the top half of the house across the street and it was driveway to driveway.  After picking up the branches with a mechanical arm on a tractor and dropping them into a large truck, my yard is pretty messed up.  That arm put some deep cuts in the front yard and left many branches laying in the street.  After raking them back up, there was another pile about 3 feet tall and 7 feet long.  I cannot complain though because it would have taken me 10 loads to get all the debris to the land fill.

My beautiful wife and oldest son and his girlfriend are in Altus, Oklahoma today visiting my sister in-law.  I really hope they have a good time.  My youngest son is staying with a friend in Shawnee so I am here alone.  I had planned on climbing the ham radio tower to fix my high frequency (HF) antenna that was destroyed during the ice storm.  A neighbor’s tree had fallen across the fence and snapped the wire and bent the 10 foot stand off pole at the top that keeps the antenna away from the tower legs.  As you can see from the photo below, the tree is laying across the power lines and all around my tower.  It was terrible but on January 8, 2008, that tree was cut to the ground and it cost me a fortune but it was worth every dime.

Tree from Hell

I was going to do this repair on the antenna last weekend but I climbed about 35 feet and changed my mind because of the heavy winds.  It was windy all week except yesterday that was perfect but I did not have time to work on it.  Today, it is cold with a North wind.  I looked at the Satellite photo and found that clearing sky is coming this way within an hour and it should warm up to 54 today. Hopefully I can get that antenna fixed today.  I should have to climb the tower twice, once to take the antenna down, and another time to re-install.

We finally got the next door neighbor’s very large elm tree cut down and that should make working on the tower much easier.  That tree was a thorn in our side for 9 years.  During the ice storm, a very large tree limb fell on the tower guy wire and pulled up one of the anchors on the opposite side.  We had to hire some people to come over and cut up the branches and then finally the entire tree.  That tree pulled the power box off the back of the house in the last two ice storms.  Then I had to get some new bigger and stronger anchors for the tower.  I had to re-level the tower and tighten all the guy wires to make it safe again before I even considered fixing the antenna.  It has been more than a month since that ice storm and we are still feeling the effects.  I sure hope I can get my front yard back to normal.  The really tore up the grass picking up the branches.

Well school starts back for me at the University of Oklahoma (OU) tomorrow so I will have to get back to work.  The break I had was not very relaxing as I had hoped since I had to have surgery, then lose power for a week, then spend days cutting up and raking tree limbs.  One of the problems with living in an older neighborhood is there are large, well established trees and all the power lines are above ground.   Ice storms have the potential of doing a lot of destruction in those situations.    Well I think I covered most of what I wanted to cover so I will say goodbye for now.

We Have Power!

Well everyone, we finally have our power back on after six days.  The lights came on at 5:57 pm last night and we were just thrilled.  It is hard to describe how you feel short tempered and lack of patience when your power is off.  On Wednesday we went and bought us a generator at I-240 and Shields Blvd.  There were many trucks that had come from the Cummins manufacturer in Kansas that were selling generators right out of the truck.  We managed to pick up a 6500 watt generator for $599.99.  With the install kit and tax, it was a little over $750.00.  That was money well spent because at least we could run a TV, a couple of lights and our refrigerator.  The neighbor tapped in and she used her refrigerator, TV, and a light as well.  This has been a very eventful couple of weeks.

I had finals at OU this last week all while having gall bladder surgery on the fifth of December.  Then last weekend we had the worst ice storm in Oklahoma history.  I just checked the TV and found that there are still more than 100,000 people here in the Oklahoma City metro with no power.  We need to keep those people in our prayers.  Thanks to you Jack, for offering to let us stay with you.  We appreciated the offer but we did have gas heat and already bought the generator.

My tower has some slight damage to the guy wires.  There was a branch about 8 inches thick that landed on the top guy wire and really shook the tower up and pulled up one of the anchor rods on the opposite side about 10 inches.  The guy wires are swaying about 3 to 4 feet in any direction so for all intents and purposes there are no guy wires holding it up.  It is pretty much standing on its own.  I have a 6 meter, 2 meter, 70 cm antenna that is pretty  much destroyed.  Both of my HF antennas are destroyed but thankfully they were just dipoles.  The most expensive one of the two was an Alpha Delta DXB-PLUS that runs about $250.00.  We have had five inches of rain in the past week so my back and front yards are just mud holes.  I hate to go out there and work because you sink into the grass.

We had another snowstorm, if you want to call it that, this morning where we had a coating on the cars.  My dad, W5QO is still without power over at his house.  I still have our WIN System repeater off the air because I have not had a chance to inspect the antenna after the tree branch landed on the tower.  The nightmare is almost over.  We seemed to have lost a week with all this going on.  I just looked at the calendar and realized that Christmas is only a week away.  What a busy week.  Sunday is inventorying all of the lost food in the refrigerators and freezers to claim on the insurance.  It was pretty scary the first time we opened them up.  Today we are doing laundry all day trying to get caught up on this whole week of sitting in the dark.  I am going back to work on Monday for the first time since before my surgery.  It will be good to get back to normal.  I think that pretty much covers the damage and what we have been doing this past week.  I will keep you posted.

Technorati Tags: ice storm,Oklahoma City,WIN System,OG&E,electricity,University of Oklahoma

Back to school

Well it has been a busy week getting ready for school.  My kids started school last Tuesday and both of them are now in high school.  It is hard to believe that time has gone so fast.  I am so proud of them and they are really doing well.  Of course this new school year includes a lot of new expenses like it usually does.  My school starts this Monday and so does the high costs of tuition and books.  I believe it will pay for itself in the long run.  This semester’s books were nearly $300 so they add up.  This evening I have been reading my school books trying to get a jump on the work.

This evening my wife and I along with my son and girlfriend went out to eat at Johnny Carinos Italian restaurant and had a nice meal.  It was a nice break from the hectic happenings of work.  It seems like they can hardly get it together at work.  One good thing is that Tropical Storm Erin has moved over us bringing some rain to the state.  I know that sounds strange if you have followed this blog and remember me saying that we have had more rain than ever this year.  One of the problems that we have in Oklahoma is that we get rain in great volumes, then long periods of dry weather.  After 37 inches of rain it stopped for weeks.  Now my grass barely has a green tint to it and the ground is cracked.  It was in the 70’s in July and this week it was 100+.

This week we finally received our new IRLP board for the repeater.  Our 443.3 repeater is still out for repair but hopefully it will be back soon.  The 145.25 repeater has been working good from all reports.  I hope to have the systems back up and running in a couple of weeks.  This week we got a letter in the mail telling us that our truck is paid for.  That was a good letter to see.  Any time you can get a debt paid off that is a good thing. Stay tuned for more later.

Ready to relax

This week has been a little stressful at work.  We have two second level supervisors that are competitively trying to build kingdoms.  They are trying to split shops and take people for their little kingdom in the name of improving things.  What really happens is that no one wins, especially the people and mission.  This week they tried to dismantle our shop and steal our people that have been working together successfully for years.  Thanks be to God, he was unsuccessful.  We had one miracle and now I am still patiently awaiting my second miracle to get that other job.  Thanks to everyone for your prayers.  I am still on the narrowing list.

On another note, the heat finally showed up.  As I have told you before, we had an unusually wet first six months with between 37 and 38 inches of rain.  The last few weeks it has dried out and now my grass is dying.  It finally hit 100 degrees the last three days.

Finally warming up

Compared to the last few years, this has been a cooler year.  The 100+ temperatures listed on the above image taken from the National Weather Service are no where near as hot as we normally get this time of year.  This temperature was taken at 11:52 AM and it shows that finally the temperatures are approaching what they normally are.  If it were up to me though, I would take the 75 degrees and rain we were having in July.

The kids are starting school next Tuesday the 14th of August.  Both of them will be in High School this year.  It is hard to believe how fast the time has gone.  I am so thankful for having such a wonderful family.  In September my wife and I will be married 18 years.  I guess we are no longer newly weds.  Sunday is quite a person.  She can do anything.  I cannot say enough good things about her.  Well, there is not much going on so I guess that is about it for this time ;-).

What have I been doing?

This weekend we had a very productive day getting our repeater running on 145.25.  We finally got the good repeater back from repair and it is working great.  The only problem is that our Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) node stopped working.  Every time the push to talk (PTT) wire would be hooked up, it would start transmitting.  We finally traced it back to the IRLP board.  Since it is a proprietary board, we are going to have to order a new one at $170.00.  What we did was took the IRLP board out of the node for the 443.3 repeater since it was down anyway and installed it in the 145.25 repeater with success.

Then Larry, KD5MAF and I edited the Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC) web site to include a link “Technical”.  This link on the left takes you to another page that has pictures of all the relevant pieces to our repeaters, and nodes.  My dad, W5QO said he is going to order two more IRLP boards to replace the one and have a spare.   Now the 145.25 repeater is now up and running at 100%.  The WIN System repeater on 443.3 is now going to be the focus.  Yesterday Larry and I drew up some diagrams on Microsoft Visio of the Interfacing of the IRLP to the repeater.  You can find them on the new “Technical” section of the DCARC web site.

Well now since the summer semester is over we have two weeks to relax before the fall semester begins.  I noticed this weekend that OU has changed their email to Microsoft Exchange web system.  They were using a Java based email that was a hassle to use.  It was so hard to download attachments.   The new Exchange system looks pretty nice.  It is very similar to Outlook 2007 with the calendar, email, and contacts.  So far I am very pleased but then again I have not tried to send attachments.

This week I received an email for a potential job increase at my work.  I am hopeful that it will go through.  As with anything the government is involved in, it could take weeks or months to find out for sure.  This job opportunity may be huge if I get it.  It does however, have the potential for temporary duty (TDY) assignments overseas, particularly in England, Saudi Arabia, and France.   If I do, then I better keep the laptop warmed up with Skype so I can keep in touch with everyone 😉 It would be better working conditions and potential doubling of my current salary.  Again, nothing is certain at this point but I am hopeful because I am among the finalists for the job.  Keep me in your prayers.

Speaking of work, it this week has been incredibly anarchist in that we are being put under intense pressure to get a project done but there is no printed guidance.  Another supervisor got in trouble doing this project for doing it illegally.  The job was taken from them and given to us.  Our customer has been at a work stop for more than a month and are waiting for us to complete this project.  Due to government bureaucracy we cannot even start.  Every time we start to get going, my supervisor stops and demands some other documentation is put into place.  I feel sorry for our engineers.  This guy had to deal with the wrath of my supervisor several times on Thursday and Friday.  This is just amazing to see the wheels of progress stop due to bureaucracy.  If you have never worked for the government, you have never seen anything like it.  If there is anything that will bring down this country, it will be the bureaucracy that halts all progress.

Enough of that…  Well I thought I better do an update since I have been playing a low profile online and the radio.  I don’t know if any of you have ever gone through waking up on the wrong side of the bed for a couple of weeks but that is what I have done but I am over it.  I have been invisible online and avoided the radio knowing that I would not be very friendly online.  Most of it has been from the constant barrage of  problems on the repeaters and nodes costing us hundreds.  Add to that, the only one that uses it is a person that is only 34 years old with no handicaps and chooses not to work and lives in a homeless shelter for the last six years.   Also the past week I was so buried with work from school that I could not get caught up until the last day.  Life is good now.  I apologize for all those that I may have snapped at under pressure ;-).

Technorati Tags: Repeater, Del City Amateur Radio Club, Skype, government, school, IRLP, work

Update 8/4/2007

Hello everyone,

Man what a week.  Last weekend I finished the summer semester and that is a huge weight off my shoulders.  For some reason over the last week I have been in a grouchy mood.  I don’t like getting like that but I have not been very friendly to be around  My attitude was evident in my post “The State of Ham Radio“.  In addition to this, I have not felt like working with our Del City ARC repeaters either and in fact, I took the web site down.  This week our good repeater came back but it needs some rewiring but as you know, I haven’t felt like dealing with it.  I might go over there and fix it today.

Yesterday I was at work when my phone rang and it was my wife telling me that our son Jordan was going to the emergency room.  I could barely hear her because it was so noisy at work.  When I got home, I found that he had been skateboarding down the street.   The street at the end where ours runs in to had just been resurfaced within the hour with asphalt.  His skateboard wheels sank in the asphalt and he fell in it and burned himself.  His back has blisters from his shoulders down to his pants.  He is doing good and was sent home.  They gave him some Lortabs and some cream to put on the back.  I hope it heals soon.

It has not been all bad though.  I got a referral for a better job this week at work.  Man I sure hope this comes through.  Work has been phenomenal with bureaucracy.  Since I work for the government you probably know how there are so many levels of bureaucracy that you have to go through to get anything done.  I am so glad it is the weekend so we can relax.

OU's website

Am I the only one that is having a terrible time accessing my school work on OU’s web site this morning?  I had planned this day to work on my lessons, aka papers and now I find myself in a position where I cannot even access it.  I can log in to various pages part of the way and then freezes up and times out.  Even my email is doing it.  I recently got an email demanding that we use only the school email to communicate and now it is flaky.  They have been advertising for a long time that in August they will be converting their email to Exchange, a Microsoft web based email client.  I sure hope it is better because even when the OU web site is working, it is hard to get your attachments when it is like this.

In their defense, I know all IT systems require maintenance now and then but it is a huge inconvenience for me at this time.  I am hopeful that it comes back up soon as I am trying to work on a couple of final papers.

Technorati Tags: University of Oklahoma, email, web site

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