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Saturday, August 1, 2009

8/2/09

I did my first public service via amateur radio yesterday! It was the first Saturday of the month, so I went and "checked" a "hot" tornado siren. First of all, a "hot" siren is one that the county really wants to make sure sounded when it was supposed to. It must not have gone off last month or something. So they assign a ham to go check it. All that is required to "check" a siren is to drive to the location, take a good look at it (as much as possible from standing on the ground) to make sure there's no damage or nests inside, then sit in the car and wait for it to go off. It either does, or doesn't. Then you call in your report to the control operator, who in turn, calls it into the county. They want to make sure all the sirens work during the test so they know it will go off when they really need it to. I've ridden along with Randy a million times to do this, and once checked one and called him on the Nextel, then he called in 2 reports. This was my first solo trip using the radio.

Yesterday I also got introduced up close and personal to contesting. Again, I've seen Randy do this a million times. I could never figure out how he could sit at the desk for hours on end with his headphones on and do this. The deal this weekend was a special event celebrating the feast day of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, the patron saint of amateur radio and the only saint who was a licensed ham. Google him, he's pretty interesting. Anyway, I let Randy handle the actual contacts, which is a good thing. I had headphones on, but he can obviously hear and understand voices thru static a lot better than I can. He would write down the callsign and other certain info and I'd enter it in the logging program. We had a run of about 20 contacts ~ boom, boom, boom ~ mostly from Europe, a few from Texas, Missouri, and a couple lighthouses along the East Coast. Oh, and one from Panama. I have to admit it was kind of fun. I'll definitely stick with the logging part for a while, since sometimes I was sure I was hearing the contacts say something different from what Randy wrote down, but they'd say "yes, my friend!" Obviously it's a talent that develops with experience.

Randy has been sad this weekend. He sold his old Ford Taurus to a buddy of his. He's drove a lot of hours in that car. Another guy, Barry was selling his 2001 Chevy Malibu and Randy really wanted me to buy it. I just had a really hard time justifying buying another car to replace one that I'm perfectly happy with. Besides, that Malibu has a lot more miles than my 2000 Escort has. He tried to sell me on it, by saying my Dad drives a Chevy and it doesn't have a cracked windshield (mine does), it has the same name as my favorite alcohol, etc. Sorry. No. So he bought it instead. It's not a bad car. I think once he gets used to it, he'll be happy. Until he sees Ted in the Taurus! Heehee!

Speaking of cars, I got my new ham radio license plate! I had to wait until I got the actual paper ticket from the FCC to apply for a ham plate, since I had to mail in a copy to the state. So it's on my car, all nice & shiny. I have truly entered the special world of the Geek.
Radio Nerd

Anyway, everyone else seems to be fine. Angel is spending the weekend with Aunt Laurie & Lisa. They went to the water park yesterday and added to the sunburn that she started Thursday during the Club field trip to Red Oaks. Dad went back in the hospital late this week for an infection in his legs. he was only supposed to be in a few days, but is still in. I'm sure Mom is finally getting some much needed sleep. Dad doesn't sleep much, so he's up and down - in bed, in the living room, out on the porch, back in bed, in the chair, all night long. And he basically needs to be watched all the time, so poor Mom is feeling the toll.

So school will be starting in a little over a month or so. 9/8 to be exact. We haven't started school shopping, yet since the kid is growing like a weed. It's pointless to start getting school clothes yet. I think I'm just going to take her to the Salvation Army and let her loose one afternoon. She always finds good stuff there! We have 3 big ones in the area, so she should be hooked up. No one is in the office of the school until 8/12 or something, so we don't know what kind of supplies she's going to need. Oh well!

I have another complaint to add to my earlier TMI post. Aunt Flo is a bitch and I don't want her to visit anymore. She decided she wanted a 21 day cycle this month instead of 28. It's just too soon. It's not painful, I haven't cramped any at all - it's just ANNOYING!!!! We're not trying to a kid, but we're not preventing, either. It's OK if it happens. Right now it's looking like a real big IF. Oh, and I got the results of my annual torture exam back and all was normal. So what is up with this cycle??? I hate it. Sometimes it really sucks to be female.

Anyway, I do believe I'm going to make a Dunkin Donuts run - there is a large French Vanilla iced coffee calling my name........

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