Teddy, AKA Demon Kitty turns three on May 7th. It is hard to believe he has been with us now for almost three years. Seems like it was just yesterday that he sat in the carrier, yelling at me in anger, all the way home from the breeder. Today, him and I are inseparable. We travel together in the car every day, and he is never far from my side ready to reign terror on the unexpected. As in past years, we will celebrate his birthday with a healthy portion of shrimp. I have never in my life seen an animal that loves their food more then Teddy with his shrimp. There isn’t a creature alive that he wouldn’t attempt to take down if it came between him and his shrimp.
Happy Birthday Teddy!
The summer is gone with a blink and we are well on our way toward winter. The month of October has been hectic. I have engaged in three public service events this month. One bicycle race, a regatta, and a half marathon. Renfaire season is almost over and I haven’t made it down yet. This upcoming weekend is my last chance and it doesn’t look promising.
My ISP at the observatory last week took my static IP addresses and changed them without notice. This broke every server, website, email account and router. It was three hours down before I was able to determine the static IP addresses changed. The ISP first then tried to tell me I never had them even though I I’ve had for the past 15 years. A week has now passed, several sites are still down and I am migrating my sites external so this will never happen again. It has been a crazy month.
The weather section of this site is currently broken because of the changes. I will have it back online soon.
It seems like it was only yesterday when I was shoveling snow off of my roof. I guess I blinked and missed Spring. Demon kitty doesn’t mind at all. Summer is his domain. Stalking small prey through the grass and forests is his forte. Whether it is a bird, frog, chipmunk, muskrat, or butterfly, his dedication is endless. I on the other hand stand sweating, and gasping for air in this hot humid hell hole called summer while holding his leash. I saw a post today that said to hang on, only 16 weeks till winter. I’ll be lucky to make the weekend. I am not a summer person, and I say it with sweaty pride!
Of course with the warmer weather comes the parades, bike rides, and races for the never ending list of charities. Being an amateur radio operator aka “ham” I like to help out where I am needed. Sometimes they are uneventful, and other times frantic, but they all need an organized central communications operation to be efficient. Ham radio operators are always glad to lend a hand whether it be a local event, storm spotting or an emergency. They are always ready to lend a hand. I am no different, I keep a couple hand radios charged and ready to go. My accessory bag is packed and ready with spare batteries, antennas, and a safety vest. Each event is different, you never know what to expect. I have been to events where I felt I was unwelcome and unneeded, and to others where I felt appreciated and accomplished something worthwhile. I just started doing parades this year, and so far I find them the most rewarding. Whether I am checking that parade participants are in their correct starting position , or walking the route to make sure all is well, I feel I have contributed.
Of course with the Summer comes the potential for severe weather. Last winter during the storms, I started to provide weather updates through the National Weather Service’s Skywarn program. Though I had not gone through the formal training at that time, I provided hourly updates through several of the winter storms. For those not familiar with Skywarn, it is a voluntary army of storm spotters just like you and me, that provide real time updates during stormy weather. It is a worthwhile program and the formal training is easy. Your participation could contribute to saving lives think about it. I am formally trained now, and I have my Smart electric car equipped with a dual band radio, a lightning detector and wind meter ready to spot when and where needed.
I have lots to do before winter, there is still snow damage that needs to be repaired, and some winterizing to tighten things up before the first snow falls, but I can’t wait for the first frost.
Maybe if I blink again…
The winter of 2015 is going to be remembered for quite some time. This winter is now listed in the top ten snowfall records with more snow to come. We have had only one day above freezing in the past three weeks and the 10 day forecast shows no relief. Everywhere you go, the first thing you hear is the weather. I am not sure if my current winter blues, which is in full force, is the result of the weather, or all the weather discussions. In Stow, I continue to burn firewood and pellets at a heavy pace, and supplies are dwindling.
On a positive note, my official list of procrastinated projects is moving right along. The tilting weather station mast I started five years ago is now finished and installed. I am almost finished rebuilding my original pellet stove and repairing my desktop beer dispenser. I have cleaned out the old server room, and have been cleaning up. Worry not though, my procrastination list is long and impressive. I won’t get kicked out of the club anytime soon.
The one with the worst cast of winter blues has to be my Devon Rex, Teddy. With his fine fur insufficient to protect him from the bitter cold. He spends endless hours staring at the white that surrounds and covers his beloved yard where he likes to spend hours searching for butterflies, mice, and birds on our daily summer walks. This morning, the roadway to the farmhouse in Stow was down to bare road. Teddy was so excited that he insisted upon walking the full length of the road in search of a sprig of grass or crawling insect until he could no longer stand the cold and fled inside. I have planted grass seeds in a window planter to try and cheer him up, but they have not yet sprouted so Teddy sits and pokes at the soil and seed, trying to figure out what I am up to. The wood and pellet stoves have become Teddy’s best friends. He cannot wait for this winter to end.
Neither can we all.
Winter has finally released its grip and spring is slowly working its way in. This of course means it must be time for the holy pilgrimage to Suffern New York to see the 23rd Annual North East Astronomy Forum. For those not into amateur astronomy, The Rockland Astronomy club hosts the largest astronomy forum in the east coast, if not the entire united states. Over a hundred vendors bring their latest wares for display and sale. Top speakers from all over the world come to give talks over the two day event. Thousands of amateur astronomers attend each year.
I have been going for more years than I can remember. I have found old pamphlets back to their 8th year and I know that year was not my first. Several people from the local astronomy club attend, and we catch up with each other at the forum. A good time is had by all. Some years we may have shopping lists for new toys and treasures, other years we go just for the talks. This year I have no shopping list. However, the glitter of shiny optics is very alluring, one can never be sure. If you are one of the people going this year, I will see you there. If you have never heard of the forum before, check out their website:
(If you look carefully at their banner, you will find me standing tall at the head of the forum)
Well I passed the 3rd element exam on Saturday. I now officially have a general class amateur radio license. Just call me KC1BGR/AG “General Booger”. I am slowly setting up my radio equipment. There is still too much snow to get up on the roof to put up an antenna, and the ground is still frozen, so I can’t put up the HF antenna. For now it’s the 2 meter J Pole across the table. Maybe I can find a beam to tie the antenna to until the weather is better. If I leave it on the table, I fear demon kitty is going to be cooked medium rare as he likes to leap on and chew the antenna randomly while I am using the radio.
In true zombie apocalypse style, my radio is mounted in a “go kit” a small compact mini rack case made by Iportable (www.iportable.com) The case is light and rugged, but too small to hold a battery or accessories. I am leaning toward building a second case to hold my meters, rigrunner, and batteries. When the apocalypse comes, I’ll be ready to bug out. A go kit in each hand, my survival pack, and demon kitty across my back.
Where did I leave my iodine tablets…
So, another birthday has come and passed. Time flies when you’re having fun. With the start of another year comes a new hobby and new source of debt. So many goodies and gadgets. The spending possibilities are endless. I have come to the conclusion that my true hobby is collecting hobbies. Over the years, I have collected stamps, and coins. I have been (and still are) a writer, amateur astronomer, archer, ham radio operator, fisherman, hunter, meteorite collector, longbow maker, re-enactor, woodworker, moped dealer, pet shop owner, bee keeper, painter, metal sculptor, computer nerd, photographer, and duck herder to name a few. Enough adventures for several life times. Some memories are from so long ago, it feels more like a past life.
There is an unexplainable sense of adventure collecting hobbies. You can never have too many, just not enough time to go around. For 2014, my next hobby is going to be no hobby, so I can find enough time to go through my current collection and pay off the prior ones. Perhaps I’ll even find time to play a tune on the old reed organ (restoring reed organs, yup, another hobby) and play with my demon kitty.
Cheers to birthdays past, and those to come… and debt eternal…
It’s nice to know the gods have a sense of humor. I got my ham radio call sign the other day KC1BGR. Every time I look at it, all I can think of is BGR=booger, and so it seems do most of the people I have given my call sign to. Well, never let it be said, I can’t be the brunt of a good laugh, so “booger” it is!
I think I need one of those lighted on the air signs. “Booger is ON THE AIR” hehehe
Well, I’m starting to put my radio shack slowly together. I assembled my dual band J pole over the weekend, now I have to figure out where to put it. My first Ham flea Market “treasure”, the mirage dual band amplifier, turned into a bust. It doesn’t work. It’s off to the manufacturer for repairs. I think I will bring a battery and radio with me next time to test before I buy.
My current plan is to be ready to take the general license exam in mid March. Once I have that license, I can take a shot at talking with a friend down in Maryland. It will be fun trying.
The astro club will be hosting a star watch at the school in Harvard tonight. Time to dust off my 12″ “grab and go” and setup in the freezing cold and inspire young minds. While one would not think it so, we have had our largest turnouts on the coldest of nights. One would think no one wants to come out in the cold and stand around looking through scopes, but they do. It should be a good turnout.
It has been way too long since my last Post. I mean well, but time goes by so quickly. Anyway, on February 12th I took and passed my element 2 exam commonly known as “technician”. The exam was hosted by the Billerica Ham Radio Club. You couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people. My thanks go out to them for taking the time from their busy schedules to administer the tests. For anyone interested, The VE-exams are held the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the second floor conference room at the Billerica Public Library. I hope to go back and take the general class exam next month.
I went to my first ham flea market last weekend. I have always thought of astronomy as an expensive hobby. It appears that ham radio gives astronomy a good run for the money. So many toys, so little cash. I was told after the exam that ham radio was like a boat that is a hole in the water into which you throw money. After shopping around, I think I liken it to a telescope which is a vacuum nozzle that sucks your money out of your pocket throwing it deeply into the center of a black hole never to be seen again.
I had actually bought my first piece of ham equipment before I took the test. It is a HT handheld, a Yaesu FT-60r. For those unfamiliar, it is a dual band handheld radio operating in the 2 meter and 70cm bands with a max output of 5 watts, and is capable of receiving a wide range of bands. I was lucky enough at the flea market to find my first “treasure”, a Mirage BD-35 dual band amplifier that is capable of 45/35 watt output from a 5 watt input. It should work well with my FT-60. For an antenna, I am looking at a dual band J pole antenna off of ebay. I hear good things about it, and it is light and inexpensive. Where I’ll put it is another matter.
They say it takes 7-10 days for your name and call sign get listed on the ULS website. It has been 6 days since I took the test, that includes a weekend and a national holiday. I suspect that it will be next week before I can broadcast my first message. What should it be? My call sign of course 🙂 Looks like I have a new piece to the puzzle that is me.
We arrived at our hotel around midnight. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our economy room had two king size beds in separate rooms. Take a look:
We got up early the next morning, had a filling continental breakfast, and we were then off to see Russ. We found him in good spirits, and wheeled him outside for some sun and fresh air.
After spending the morning together, we took Russ’s advice and had lunch at his favorite brew pub:
After lunch we returned, and took in the picturesque landscape of the hospice. It was very tranquil
At the end of the afternoon, we left so Russ could rest. We then went out to visit his wife and see the “man cave” he worked so hard to build this summer. We ended the night back at the pub for one last toast. We will swing by in the morning and say goodbye before we depart.