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Thursday, December 31, 2009 9:51 AM - One of the EOY tasks was updating my yearly stats in the QRP section of the web site. I found the results interesting and thought I'd talk about them for my entry today.

My total number of QSO's was the lowest at 1561 in the period 1995-2009 which represent the full years of my streak. That is mainly due to my commitment to other things which reduced my on-air time. Also the generally poor conditions contributed somewhat as it often took a long time to make a QSO - time spent in which I could have been making more QSO's.

Number of countries worked (69) is the highest since 2006. Perhaps an indication that conditions are on the upswing?

14 Asian QSO's is the highest since 2002. Another encouraging stat.

Total DX QSO's topped last year's total by 60, but was still less than any other year in the period.

European QSO's beat both 2007 and 2008.

Different prefixes worked was the lowest ever.

Strangely South American QSO's were the lowest ever and even lower than my Asian total. That's hard to explain other than I probably tried harder to work AS than SA since working Asia is still somewhat of a thrill even after a few hundred Asian QSO's.

20 meter QSO's were less than half my previous lowest total.

Now you can take a look at the stats and see if anything additional pops out at you. -30-

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:19 PM - I just got finished with our NAQCC mW sprint and then posting scores on the NAQCC web site. The sprint was fun, but again conditions weren't all that good here, and I guess elsewhere as well. We've received 17 logs as of this moment, and so far only N0AR in MN has as many QSO's as I made - 8. Still there are a lot of logs yet to come, so I'm sure someone will have more than 8, probably K4BAI for one.

With my first QSO with KW4JS in the sprint, I've completed another year of making a QSO with QRP/CW/simple wire antennas each and every day, and thus earned another NAQCC QSO a Day Full Year award. If I can do that again in 2010, my streak will be 7 days short of 6,000 days on 12/31/2010. Hard to believe.

I've got a lot of end of month and end of year work the next few days, so my diary entries will probably be fairly short during that period. So let me take this time to wish all of you a very happy and a very blessed 2010. -30-

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:50 PM - Many folks of Eastern Orthodox churches do not celebrate Christmas until January 7 because they observe the Julian Calendar. That's a long story by itself, but I mention it only briefly here to explain why I am leaving the Merry Christmas near the top of this page up until that date.

Now continuing my review of 2009. I got a very appropriate email just a few hours ago that fits right in with my review. What is said here is one of the real joys of my life not only in 2009, but ever since I started this web site.

Jim KC0DD emails, "hello JOHN i have injoyed your web site so much i have read your articles so much that i feel as i know you personal. i can not type. but i can hunt and peck hi! you said i could use you as a sponser for membership in the naqcc so i did also join the fist as you sugested. i am looking forward to working you some time. do you ever go to the ham covention in orlanda fl .this will be my 3nd year as my wifes folkes live in fl. if so would like to meet you my code speed is only 15 or so wpm but do injoy it. just wanted you to know how your web has got me back in qrp 73 have a blessed year JIM KC0DD"

I am always delighted when my web site has brought a ham into CW/QRP work on the ham bands, whether it be a return like the prodigal son or a totally new delight to a new or old ham. I'm especially delighted to know someone joined FISTS because of my site. And of course joined the NAQCC as well. I am just so proud of these two organizations and love to do all I can to help them out in any way I can. May they continue to grow and prosper in the coming year (and beyond).

There are tons of other great things that happened in 2009, but I think I'll end this here with one more. I made a lot of new ham friends in 2009 as well as getting to know some hams I've met before this year a lot better this year. Friendship is always rewarding whether in ham radio or any other activity or just life in general. -30-

Monday, December 28, 2009 8:06 PM - The year started off with Mike KC2EGL and I finishing up his KX-1 kit which was well documented in our NAQCC newsletters. Although Mike did most of the actual work, I really enjoyed it also. And the year came close to an end with me building a kit all by myself. Admittedly far less complex than the KX-1, but it certainly was a good feeling to build one. I documented that a couple entries ago.

Mike also figured in a few other good times during the year. We had some good astronomy sessions, and also a portable operation for our NAQCC 5th anniversary celebration in October.

Another friend Don WA3ZBJ and I got together for a portable operation as well. Then Tom WY3H and I took a trip to Pittsburgh to operate portable from the submarine USS Requin.

It's always nice to do things with friends, and I could list a lot more things here, but I won't because I want to turn to one negative thing.

It's distressing to see what I perceive as a lack of activity in the FISTS club. This year I hear much less activity on 3558. In fact I almost never hear a CQ FISTS there anymore. Also I was sad to see only 3 Keynotes published this year. FISTS is by far THE club that is helping to preserve CW on the ham bands, and I fear if it falters, that will send CW further into retreat. There are other CW clubs, but none can come close to FISTS in what they do for CW. Yes, even our NAQCC is a lesser player than FISTS in the CW preservation game. I hope that 2010 can see a resurgence in FISTS activity. I will certainly do my part to participate in the FISTS activities as much as possible. I have been somewhat lax in that due to all my other commitments, but one of my New Year's resolutions is to increase my support of FISTS. I hope that will be one of your resolutions also. -30-

Sunday, December 27, 2009 9:59 PM - Another year is coming to an end, and that is time to look back on the year just past and forward to the coming year. I think I'll do just that for the next couple entries.

I think probably the highlight of the year for me was having Joe come into my life. As I've said, I was never a dog person and never even cared for dogs. But Joe was different somehow and it was almost love at first sight between him and me. I really enjoy taking him for walks or playing with him or just being with him.

The continued growth of our NAQCC was another highlight of the year. We're now over 4,000 members and continuing to grow. Our sprints are rivaling the popularity of the Spartan Sprints and in fact in comparing the first 60 or so of both organizations' sprints, the NAQCC is ahead in just about any way you look at it. And our participation continues to grow with each sprint. Imagine what they will be like when the sun finally gets its spots back and improves band conditions!

As always, I had fun with gardening this year. I was a little disappointed in not getting my first ripe tomato by my goal of May 15th, but I still had garden tomatoes before the end of May again. A lot of folks had problems with their gardens, but mine turned out about average. It was also fun helping Ange with his garden again.

Fishing turned out better than 2008 by quite a margin although again this year it had its ups and downs. My total increased by around 50% over 2008, but still my carp total wasn't all that impressive once again. Its always nice to go fishing with someone and this year Bruce went with me a few times and we tried out a couple fishing spots that were new to me or that I hadn't gone to in a few years.

Walking was good again. I maintained my average of around 7.25 miles per day. I don't think I spread out my walks as much though. Most of the times I just walked through the park or on our rails to trails.

I'll continue this tomorrow. -30-

Saturday, December 26, 2009 10:56 PM - This was another day when I did something I hadn't done in quite a while. I built a kit. Although I did help building the KX-1 about a year ago, this is the first time I've built something all by myself probably since the early 90's. I found that I'm not quite as adept nor as quick in building as I used to be. However I found out that I am still able enough to tackle something like the K2 I've thought on and off about building for some time now.

OK, so what did I build, you're asking. Well, my friend Mike KC2EGL surprised me with a visit yesterday and gave me a Winkeyer USB kit. I put it together the first thing this morning when I got up. I took it slow and checked every step carefully. Those printed circuit boards are getting smaller and smaller and more and more closely packed with tinier and tinier soldering islands. I used to be able to tell a solder bridge with the naked eye at a good distance away, but now a close examination with a magnifying glass is needed. Also if I do go for a K2 someday, I'm going to get a smaller tip for the soldering iron and some finer solder as well. Although I never even came close to a solder bridge today, my iron and solder could have been smaller.

I really like the keyer. It's smaller than my current CMOS Super Keyer II, although the operation is pretty much the same. I still have to learn a few things about the commands it uses, and figure out how it supposedly has 6 memories with only 4 pushbuttons. The embedded commands are a bit different and I had to do some studying to find the command to loop my CQ message. It's a /Wnn, not a /Pnn like in the CSK II.

I had hoped to take a series of pictures and write a little article about the construction, but once I got rolling, I forgot about that. It was pretty straightforward though with nothing tricky about it. It's not as much of a 'take you by the hand and lead you through it' project as the KX-1 pretty much was. You have to have some knowledge about soldering, recognizing parts, and other such basic things as they are not explained in the manual.

In addition to the visit from Mike, it was also a nice Christmas otherwise as well. Nancy invited me over for dinner with her two sons and her twin 7 year old grandkids. The meal was delicious and it was a delight watching the kids open their gifts. Joe didn't know what to make of all the activity and he was running around checking out everything. -30-

Friday, December 25, 2009 1:00 PM - Despite the time stamp, I'm not posting this till late tonight as I want yesterday's entry to be at the top for most all of Christmas day.

Let's do some feedback now. Paul N0NBD Re: yesterday's entry, "Amen and MERRY CHRISTMAS! I had planed on going to church tonight but a ice storm followed by snow and 30mph winds... They called off church!?"

We missed the ice here for the most part. A slight glaze on the colder surfaces like bricks, etc. was it before it turned to plain rain as the temp climbed above freezing.

Jerry WB0T emails, "Hello, John - There is an interesting article in World Radio written by Nancy Kott, the editor (who, as you know,) is also featured in Fists activities. The article has to do with her experience and motivation in learning Morse code to earn her extra. You can, if interested, read it online by using your favorite search engine for CQ magazine. World Radio is available by clicking the picture of the cover for the publication. Merry Christmas to you and yours! 73, Jerry WB0T # 2489 dit dit"

I found the article through the Bing search engine. To save you the trouble, here's the URL: http://www.worldradiomagazine.com/wro_issues/2010/WRO_01_2010.pdf

Next Carl N5XE, "John, Just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthful, and safe New Year. Take care and will see you on the bands... 73 - Carl, N5XE dit dit"

Kenji JJ1BDX emails in part, "Hello John: Merry Xmas (I'm a Christian) and happy holidays to you... I've also put in an entry for the QRP WAC poll. From JA the Carribeans and West Africa are the toughest place to work, as well as US/Canadian East Coast. So far the most interesting band for me now is 30m/10.1MHz. The 20m/14MHz was the best one in 2005, but I guess the 30m is better now due to the low SSN. I also notice considerable less QRV on CW in JA land these days since 2007 or so. For most of Japanese people English is truly a "foreign" language and CW in English is not so popular. I wish I could make some ragchew with US hams. So have a good day and a happy new year 2010. 73 Kenji Rikitake, JJ1BDX(/3)"

I must say I find that interesting about the Caribbean area being hard to work from Japan. I often hear Caribbean stations running long strings of JA's.

Chuck W8LQ, "Hi, John....... When you transplant those tomato seedlings bury one of those carp in the hole for fertilizer like the Indians did. Vy 73 es Merry Christmas!"

But then the carp couldn't grow up still bigger and give an even better battle. HI.

More from Paul N0NBD, "He He He, if you ever get a glut of seeds send a couple out this way and I see if the cold wx tomatoes will grow in KS. Today was also the magic day and tomorrow should be a few seconds longer... Right? De Paul"

Yep, the 21st had the least amount of daylight, and now that amount is on the increase until around June 21.

Keith W8GX, "Love the winter countdown! It gives me hope in this miserable time of year!"

You said it, Keith.

Don WA5FQV sent a lot of interesting info. Here are some excerpts, "I was looking at your board of old QSL cards from that time and noticed that I had one up there that was hand made (it looks like). Must have been before I got my first set of printed QSL cards. That was just after I got my novice ticket I bet."

Yes, that was from our very early days of being hams. It verifies a QSO on May 18, 1963.

Don continues, "Also saw some other QSL cards that I had worked back then and one that I knew from around my home QTH...John WN5HOJ. He lived about a mile from my house back in those days and was about 2 or maybe 3 years younger than me. I don't think he is a ham anymore or if so I don't know his call...he moved to California and got the call WB6SHL, that was the last I knew of John back in about 1968 or so I think. I only had one 40 meter xtal then, 7.167 and ran a Globe Scout 680A with 65 watts input power with a dipole up about oh 30 feet on the average from the house to a push-up pole. Just thinking about those novice days, we had a lot of fun doing just CW with not more than 75 watts and using xtals....but then, that is high power considering QRP. I see you talked to WN5GUV, Rick (Richard) back in the old days also...he was about one block from me then! He moved around the country, but recently came back to the DFW area and lives in Plano, Texas, which is oh not too far to the east of here."

And Tim AC5SH, "Amen CHRISTMAS!!! Tim, AC5SH"

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day. I did, and perhaps I'll talk more about it tomorrow. For now, I've left you enough (too much?) to digest just like those Christmas meals I hope you all enjoyed today. -30-

Thursday, December 24, 2009 7:32 PM - This is what we celebrate tomorrow, so when you greet someone, say "Merry Christmas", not Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings or anything else.

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. -30-

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 8:08 PM - Another of my long-time diary readers Chuck W8LQ knew that the pot picture signified my planting of my Siberian Tomato seeds in hopes of again getting some ripe garden tomatoes in May. Last year (well actually this year) I shot for May 15th, but missed it by a couple weeks due to an unseasonably cold spell the first half of May. For 2010, I've planted the seeds yet another couple weeks earlier than I did for 2009, so we'll see how things turn out.

Joe's 'daddy' Bruce returned from Indiana today and I got to see the joyful reunion. Joe was sure excited after not seeing Bruce for about three weeks.

Not really much more to talk about now. I do have some diary feedback in addition to the tomato comments. I'll try to get to that tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 9:11 PM - Well naturally Paul N0NBD would know what the picture signified in yesterday's entry. He was the only one who commented one way or another about it. So maybe I'll just make you be curious for another day if you don't know.

I'm getting quite a few Christmas greetings via email and probably won't have time to respond to them all individually. So if I don't respond to you, please know that I do appreciate your thoughfulness in remembering me at this wonderful Christmas season among all the other things you are doing getting ready to celebrate Christ's birthday on Friday.

My rag chew streak is broken at 8. I had two QSO's this evening, and both folks had to rush off to something else after about 10 minutes each. It is a busy time of year.

Here's an excerpt from an email from Geo N1EAV about my reference to Don WA5FQV and the late night QSO's, "Hi John.......wanted to comment on your diary entry on the 19th. Your comments on your friend from Texas reminded me of my early novice days in 1971. Made many late night friends on 80 meters during that time. I especially loved "snow days" back then when you could stay home drinking hot cocoa and working the 40 meter novice band.....Of course, after you shoveled the front walk and cleaned off your fathers car......All good memories, just like the ones we make every day...Take care John.....The days are getting longer 73,geo n1eav"

Yes they are but as the old saying goes, "The cold gets stronger as the days get longer." Still it is nice to have more daylight each day especially in the evenings where we've now gained around 5 minutes since the earliest sunset back on December 7. -30-

Monday, December 21, 2009 8:26 PM - The rag chews just keep on coming. That's 8 days in a row now that my daily streak QSO has turned into a pleasant rag chew. And I mean content rag chews, not ones where it takes constant repeats of info to stretch a QSO to 20 mins (NAQCC challenge definition) or 30 mins. These were all solid rag chews about various topics with virtually no repeats of any information.

It was another not too bad a day here. The high was in the 30's allowing for more of our snow to melt gradually. Most of the sidewalks have been cleaned off, so walking is not all that bad, neither for me nor for Joe.

Those of you who follow the diary regularly and have been for a while will know what this picture means.
pix_diary_20091221_01 (48K)

The rest of you will have to guess or wait till tomorrow's entry when I'll explain it. Hey, it's my diary and I can be a little tricky if I want to, can't I? HI. -30-

Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:50 PM - It looks like it may be the real thing this time. The solar flux has been in the 80's for the past 6 days now. So maybe cycle 24 is really on the way toward a peak at long last. This is much more solid than the several false starts we've had before.

And then there was one. With the Saints losing to the Cowboys last night in a really great game, my Dolphins and I have only the Colts to worry about now as a possible undefeated team. I'm sure you know by now the story behind that, so I won't go into it again here.

We wound up with about 7 inches of snow yesterday, and it really looks miserable around here. At least Joe has learned to adapt even though he has trouble getting close to some of his favorite marking targets. A small snowbank makes a fine substitute for him.

For those of you who celebrate Astronomical winter, your big day comes tomorrow, but I've already ticked off some 20 days of winter so far. That's a big psychological help in getting through this horrible time of year. -30-

Saturday, December 19, 2009 9:41 AM - Let's get caught up on some feedback on this snowy Saturday. Looks like about 2 inches of snow on the ground and still coming down, although not too heavy at the moment.

From regular 'feedbacker' Paul N0NBD, "I sure like your count down counter. It was 13 degrees here this morning and frosty. It did warm up to toward 40 with sun but I sure am sick of winter. The only good thing is 80 is much nicer to work on clear cold nights. As always I enjoy hearing of your and Joe's friendship growing. My little dog Burt sits at my feet here in the shack or beside me in the chair down stairs. He is my shadow! Have a good one"

From Geoffrey AE4RV, "Hi, John, Great to see my call on your daily QRP QSO roster (and diary entry)! I have long wondered if that would ever happen. I just remembered that you're taking "zero-beat data" and wanted to mention my rig - Icom 746pro. I didn't use any tricks, just my ear but I think we were perfectly in tune, no? It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine that so many people don't zero-beat. Also, very cool that you cycled through all of your keys in our QSO. Made my night. I kept my sked with Lind, WA2WMR, on 40 a few minutes after and by the end of that I think I was a bit "dit happy". Sure love the Code."

I'm still gathering rig zero beat data, and will have an update after the holidays. And yes, you were zero beat.

From Chuck W8LQ, "Hi, John...... Guess you're waiting for someone to say that your countdown clock is wrong! I'll bet your shack calendar is marked with the meteorological seasonal dates!! Hope you have a super Christmas.....vy 73"

I am surprised no one has mentioned the clock being wrong. I guess everyone knows me too well and my aversion to winter and interest in meteorology.

From Don WA5FQV, "Hi John, I was just looking at your web site again, its a nice one. I am still on the air here, We had a fire here in 2005 and I lost all the old Drake gear (C-Line, B-Line, Drake 2-B, 2-NT and several 2 meter rigs and 1 Radio Shack 10 meter rig). Back on the air with Kenwood TS-2000, which is kind of an all band, or most band rig. Still mostly retired here, do some sub teaching for the local schools now also. We worked quite a bit back in the Novice days of 1963, 1964 and around that time. I still like to operate CW, as well as the digital modes and some SSB and even some old 75 meter AM at times (there is a group here that restores old AM rigs). Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope you are doing fine John. Best 73 from, Don Tiffin WA5FQV in The Colony, Texas ....Denton County, north of Dallas"

In ham radio, you work some hams once only, you work others a few times, and then you have others you work many times and really get to know them and become good friends. Don was one of my first 'good friends' via the air waves. We met when I was KN3WWP and he was WN5FQV. I think it's great he kept his original call over the years just as I did. Don and I first worked on May 18, 1963 on 40M as newcomers to ham radio. I don't know just exactly when Don got licensed, but I had only been licensed about 6 weeks at that time and that was just my 14th QSO. I had 4 QSO's with Don as WN5FQV and 8 more as WA5FQV. That may not seem like all that many, and actually I thought there were more until I checked just now. However the QSO's were all rag chews, several going for one hour or more. The QSO's were usually late at night between 0500 and 0800Z. What a difference in the bands between then and now. On weekends and during the summer months, the CW bands were filled with teenagers pounding brass into all hours of the night. Now except for the occasional 'night owl', the CW bands seem to shut down at 11PM or Midnight, as all us then teenagers are now old fogies who go to bed early or have forgotten about CW. It's sad to contemplate the situation.

Don was right in Dallas at the time, and there were several other hams within a few blocks of him. I believe all were around the same age as Don and me, namely in our upper teens. I also worked a few of those hams. Just looking at my log for 63 and 64 I see WN5HOJ, WN5GUV, WA5DGC, WA5CMK, and WA5GDX. So many memories can be evoked by a simple email from a friend. Thanks Don. -30-

Friday, December 18, 2009 9:07 PM - I had a good day today, as are most all of my days, really. I helped a friend with some computer work and everything worked out just fine. I love it when that happens. I enjoy winning the battle when I fight a computer.

Another friend gave me some deer baloney. I love venison in just about any shape or form so I'll be enjoying that over the Christmas holidays.

It looks like we might just have a white Christmas this year. 2-4 inches of snow predicted by Sunday morning and a week of cold temperatures should keep it in place for Christmas. Just as long as we don't get too much of it as that makes it hard on Joe for his walks. Also as long as there is no ice mixed in, it won't be all that bad. Still when I rode along the river with my friend today, the pleasures of fishing entered my head, and I still prefer the warm weather to what is coming up in the next couple months.

Hey, next year I get to buy a lifetime fishing license. So that will be a nice money saver. For the price of about 2 1/2 regular annual licenses, I can fish from now on until.... well we won't go into that.

80M remains in good shape. For the fifth evening in a row now, my streak QSO has been a solid rag chew. That is a rag chew by our NAQCC December challenge standards of 20 minutes. However the last 3 have gone 30 minutes or more for a standard rag chew definition.

Almost time now to go over and visit with Joe and wait till Nancy gets home from work and we take him out for the final walk of the day. -30-

Thursday, December 17, 2009 11:44 PM - I worked an 80 year old ham this evening who remarked that he had just returned to CW after many years. Some time after the QSO, I got to thinking that folks who enjoyed CW in their youth, then got away from it for many years only to discover that joy of CW again in their later years are a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge and Christmas.

Did you see the SF today? 87, yes 87. Old Sol awakening once more? Will he push SNOOZE again? Stay tuned to find out.

My washing is about ready to transfer to the dryer, so time to close this entry. -30-

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:10 PM - Normally I do like to rag chew, but when we have a NAQCC challenge dealing with rag chewing, as we do this month, I get even more into it. It's always nice to know more about the ham you're talking to than what rig he is running and what his weather is. Sometimes though, that's all the info that the band conditions allow to be exchanged. However the past few nights as I mentioned last night have seen the bands in good, stable conditions just right for rag chewing. Tonight I ran into someone who has become a friend mainly through interaction with my web site via emails. That's Geoffrey AE4RV who answered my CQ. We had a great 32 minute visit or rag chew. It was enjoyable talking about different keys among other things. He mentioned that he had been visiting my web site for over 11 years now. I certainly appreciate that. When he said that, it popped into my mind that might make a good poll question - How long have you been visiting my web site - or maybe - When did you first visit my web site. Of course it wasn't an important enough event in any person's life that they would remember exactly, but the approximations would prove interesting, I think.

It was a better day here today with no snow and quite a bit of sunshine, but still quite cold and some of the snow that fell last night melted and froze to make some icy patches here and there. I had to be careful walking Joe, not only watching out for myself, but for Joe although with four feet he should have better balance and not as far to fall as well. Still I guess dog bones can fracture just like human ones. Anyway we made out OK and had 3 good, but somewhat shortened walks today.

As I said to Nancy today, if anyone a year ago would have told me that one of the joys of 2009 for me would be a little dog, I'd have said they were crazy. I still remember the dread I had when Nancy told me that Bruce would be bringing his dog with him and they hoped I would help take care of him. It sure didn't take long for Joe to turn me around 180 degrees. He has truly been a delight to me and soon it will be a year that we've been 'friends'.

Time now to move along. I've got some NAQCC things to get taken care of like a few new members to sign up. -30-


Tuesday, December 15, 2009 9:15 PM - I'm looking out my front window at our first laying snow of the season so far. We had a snow burst - lake effect style - that dropped about a half inch on the ground. The day started out decent and went downhill from there.

80M continues to recover from whatever it was going through recently. Signals are peaking again and activity is seeming to follow suit. I've had solid rag chews the past few evenings. Hopefully things will continue to improve as we get deeper into winter.

I've been having a lot of fun with Joe lately. Today I brought him over here to stay for a while when Nancy was working. He's been over here a few times before and each time he seems to get more relaxed. Today he was pretty much acting just like he does next door.

Speaking of Joe, it's about time for his final walk of the day. I wonder how he'll like the snow. It's probably been since March that he's walked in snow now. -30-

Monday, December 14, 2009 7:42 PM - A very nice day today, both health wise and weather wise. Temperatures in the upper 40's even though it was overcast most of the time. Joe and I took 2 long walks today. He really enjoys the temperature in that range.

I just posted my new poll for Dec-Jan. Don VE3HUR was wondering how long it took hams to get their QRP CW WAC and which was the last country worked to complete it. As is, that would require too many choices in the poll. So I thought about it for a while and came up with the current poll which asks what was the last continent worked for WAC. There are three sections depening on where you live. One for east USA/VE, one for west USA/VE and one for outside continental USA/VE. The divisions were necesary because probably most of the eastern stations would have AS as their last continent, and most western stations would have EU or AF as their last. We'll just have to see how it turns out if everyone understands and votes correctly. Incidentally having QRP CW WAC does not require you to have the actual award. It only means you've worked all 6 continents with QRP CW.

A later poll will ask how long it took to achieve QRP CW WAC. For me it was 34 years after I was first licensed. I never got serious about DXing until the early-mid 1990's plus I had a long spell of being inactive while I was busy working at WPIT. Incidentally it also took Don VE3HUR that long. We both worked AS via Japan to complete our WAC's. Don just recently got his and told me it was good to know he was right on schedule. HI. -30-

Sunday, December 13, 2009 9:11 PM - Still a little under the weather here. It was not very good weather to be under today either. We had our first bout with freezing rain this morning. Just a slight glaze, but it turned streets and sidewalks into skating rinks.

Joe didn't get to go out till later today and we kept him in our front yards to do his business. Now it's 38 degrees and all the ice has melted. It's getting close to the time for Joe's last walk of the day. Bruce is coming home on Tuesday so there will be a very overjoyed little dog next door then.

I guess that's about it for now. -30-

Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:09 PM - I feel a little better this evening. Got my QSO for the 12th this morning on 40M and for the 13th this evening on 80M. 80 seemed a bit better this evening - at least there was a little more activity with the AWA contest and probably because it's a Saturday evening.

Not a whole lot else to talk about today. The weather was nice with a lot of sunshine and a high near 40 degrees.

Nancy had her grandkids there today, and it was nice to visit with them for a while. Kids are always a delight at the ages of 7-11 or so before the curse of teenagedness descends upon them. Some resist the curse, but a lot seem to succumb to it and their personalities undergo a radical transformation. -30-

Friday, December 11, 2009 11:09 PM - I feel a little under the weather this evening, so I'm not going to write anything for today and just head off to bed early. Yes, 11:09 PM is early for me. I'll even wait till the morning to get my streak QSO for the first time in quite a while. More tomorrow. -30-

Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:44 PM - I was greeted by the same empty bands this evening that have greeted me the past several nights now. Where is everybody? I know part of it is due to propagation but a large part is just inactivity. It again took a long time to get a QSO for my streak this evening, but when I did, it turned out to be a great solid copy 35 minute rag chew with K4TRH in TN. A little QSB, but solid copy both ways the whole 35 minutes. That doesn't act much like poor propagation, does it.

Anyway once again it is late. I took Joe out for his late evening walk, then stayed with Joe and Nancy and watched the pitiful Steelers lose their 5th straight game and just about wipe out any chance to repeat as Super Bowl winners. I'm glad I'm not a Steeler fan. It was fun seeing my Raiders beat them last week! -30-

Wednesday, December 09, 2009 9:23 PM - How about some diary feedback first tonight. Regular contributor Paul N0NBD from two separate emails says:

"Here! Here! On the sleeping GIANT!!!!!
Hope to hear U on the NAQCC sprint tonight. I worked a few guys last night on 80 meters for the Spartan Sprint.. I am a "Tubby" entry and the word fits cul de Paul N0NBD"


"Hello John, I was at the radios on 40 and 80 last night for a little over an hour. I listened up and down until I was wearing the black off the knobs, I called CQ repeatedly and NEVER hear a station let alone anyone working the sprint. I did have some BAD QRN here. Maybe the storm just northeast of us was causing trouble. I will try again de Paul N0NBD"

Welcome to the large club, Paul. As you I'm sure have now seen, a lot of participants rang in with 0 to 5 QSO's in last night's sprint. Conditions were just about the worst I've seen for one of our sprints and as far as being bad over a large area of the USA, it was definitely THE worst overall conditions. Unless you lived in the south central or south east USA, you experienced the horrible conditions personally. As I wrote in my soapbox comments, I figure I called around 420 unanswered CQ's in the 2 hours I was in the sprint. Only that persistence allowed me to get the 13 QSO's I did. I have to confess I was ready to give up a few times during the course of the sprint, but I continued on.

Time now to go see Nancy and Joe. Hopefully tonight no cats or rain to contend with in walking Joe. -30-

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 11:51 PM - Those of you have followed the diarly regularly for over a year now (thank you very much!) will remember the 'catnapping' story from I guess about last March or so. Well it was reprised this evening.

For the past couple evenings, a stray cat has been hanging around my and Nancy's houses. Of course that was very upsetting to Joe and to Nancy. Nancy or her family once had a dog that was scratched by a cat, became infected and died. I was determined that was not going to even get remotely close to happening to Joe. So tonight after our NAQCC sprint (could have done it during the sprint - but that's for later in the entry), I caught the cat, and Nancy and I drove him away and released him a good ways from our houses. On top of that it's raining here and we had to take Joe out for his late evening walk after the cat episode. Then I visited with Joe and Nancy for a while before coming back over here to take a look at the sprint scores.

I had been wondering if the infamous black hole struck this area tonight as I STRUGGLED to make 13 QSO's after making 46 easily last month. However in glancing at the 25 or so logs that have been submitted so far, it seems that it was a very huge black hole indeed. Only a couple of southern stations so far have reported more than 10 QSO's. With the exception of me up north, everyone seems to have fewer than 10 QSO's. I think only my persistence got me the 13. I continually called CQ for the two hours with only a couple short breaks for S&P which weren't successful anyway. I guess I put out about 1 hour and 45 minutes of CQ's in the 2 hours. That with only my usual 5 seconds or so in-between CQ's to listen for answers. I think I'll be calling CQ in my sleep tonight. -30-

Monday, December 07, 2009 9:06 PM - Not to downplay the fact that this is Pearl Harbor Day, but I want to talk about something else significant about today in a little bit.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 68 years ago today, that was the beginning of the end for the National Socialism of Adolph Hitler in Germany as well as for the Japanese. That attack awoke a sleeping giant and annoyed him very much. It caused him to enter the war allied with another great power, and eventually bring the two evil powers to their knees. That same giant was awakened a few other times since then, most recently on September 11, 2001 when some cowardly evil forces attacked the giant's own home. Unfortunately the giant has not been allowed to use his full powers now as he did in 1941-1945, and the cowardly evil forces are still at work plotting their dastardly schemes against freedom in the world. We can only hope and pray that the giant emerges victorious in these current attacks against freedom as he did the other times he was called upon to fight to preserve freedom.

Now let me get to something that is much less significant, but still something to talk about. For those of us living along the 40th parallel north, Today marks the earliest sunset of the year. From now until sometime in June, the sun will set a little later each day. It won't be much at first, just a few seconds a day to start with. By the time Christmas comes, sunset will be just a little less than 6 minutes later than today. However that is a significant turning point for those of us who hate the miserable weather of winter. While that of course will continue to worsen and stay bad until early March, at least we will have more light in the evening each day to give us hope.

Time now to finish my snack and go help Nancy take Joe for his final walk of the day. Bruce is away for a couple days, and I'm pinch hitting for him in taking care of Joe till he returns. -30-

Sunday, December 06, 2009 8:32 PM - I never did get back in the 160M test, and wound up with about 25 QSO's in about an hour of operating not counting the additional time I was just listening for needed states.

Right now I just noticed from my time stamp it's time for our NAQCC QRS net on 3595, so I'm going to go check that out, then continue this later.

As expected, I didn't hear anything on the net. 80M was horrible tonight either because of poor conditions or just a plain lack of activity. It took almost an hour to get my streak QSO. I called CQ on both 160 and 80 with no trace of any answers until WA3BHM answered me. However our QSO ended prematurely after a couple rounds as the band changed and his signals just disappeared.

I just hope 80 gets all of these bad times out of its system before our NAQCC sprint this Tuesday evening and we have as good a sprint as we had in November with several new records set then. -30-

Saturday, December 05, 2009 7:36 PM - I got on 160M again in the 0500Z hour and heard some strong signals from half the states I needed for my WAS. However, none of them heard me at all. I heard WA, NM, LA, and NV. The signals were much stronger than back in the mid-90's when I worked states like OR, CA, AZ, WY, UT, MT. It was hard to understand. Of course there was competition for the stations last night, but even when the stations in question were calling CQ with no answers except for me, I never got so much as an indication they heard me at all. Strange.

I also woke up in the 0900Z hour, and then I didn't hear much from the west coast as skip seemed to be mostly shorter then.

I did struggle to work W5ZN whom I thought was in LA, but when I finally did get him, it turns out he was in AR. I must have been thinking of W5ZR whom I believe, without checking, is in LA.

I'll probably give it another try tonight, but I'm kind of discouraged. Perhaps if I do hear the same states tonight, the competition will be less and they'll be listening for the weaker signals to add points to their score.

Now I'm going up to at least get one QSO in the test to continue my streak. -30-

Friday, December 04, 2009 11:17 PM - Conditions seem pretty good for the ARRL 160M contest. I only listened for a few minutes, but heard strong signals from IA (worked N0NI) and MO. I think after I finish up my computer work, have my midnight snack, and get ready for bed, I'll listen around for the needed states I mentioned yesterday. So I better get going now. -30-

Thursday, December 03, 2009 11:10 PM - As you see from the time stamp, it's kind of late and I still have a few other things to do before getting to bed. So not too much time for an entry tonight.

I never did get back in the ARCI 160M contest last night, but I will be in the ARRL 160M contest this weekend. I don't know when or for how long. I'd like to get a couple more of the 8 states I still need on 160. Let's see if I can remember them without looking them up. AK, HI, ID, NV, LA, MS, WA, NM. I did it. Except for AK and HI, perhaps WA, they shouldn't be all that hard to get. All I need is to find someone from those states and stick with them till I work them. I usually run out of patience, especially if there is no sign at all they are hearing me. If I get a ? or K? or P? or something that indicates they are hearing me, then I need to stick with them like I did several years ago in working K6NA in CA, W7GG in OR and the like. I'll just have to wait to see what happens. -30-

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 9:54 PM - I thought I'd get into the QRP ARCI 160M contest this evening just to get a quick streak QSO. However condx on 160 were quite good and I wound up staying an hour and making 15 QSO's in 8 SPC's. I may even go back and try for some more before it ends at 0600Z.

Last night I did something I haven't done for quite a while. I pulled out a jigsaw puzzle and worked it. When my mother and aunts were living, we used to work one just about every night. I've got probably around 150 up in the attic and many of them have been worked over and over again through the years. I haven't posted any pictures here in the diary lately so I'll post a picture of the completed puzzle here. It has 255 pieces and is from the 1950's since the latest president pictured is Dwight Eisenhower.

pix_diary_20091202_01 (93K)

The worst part about working jigsaw puzzles is turning over all the pieces when you get started. Now that lends itself to a million dollar invention. Just invent some kind of device that turns the pieces over automatically and spreads them out on the table. HI

Anyway they are a lot of fun, a good way to pass the time, and for me nostalgic. -30-

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 8:11 PM - How low can you go? No I'm not going to talk about limbo dancing. That refers to the ham bands. It seems I have to keep going lower to get my streak QSO lately. 40M goes long so early there's virtually nothing to be heard by the time 0000Z comes along. 80M has also been pretty deserted at that time of day several days of late. Tonight a tune-across on 80 from 3560-3520 revealed nothing but empty space. After calling CQ about 15-20 minutes with no results, I decided to go even lower. I went to 160M. It sounded fairly active. I got an answer to my CQ's after only a few tries.

I just don't know what is happening to 80M. The explanation for 40 and above is definitely the resting spotless sun. However that shouldn't affect 80M. The few signals that are heard there are usually quite strong most of the time. I think folks are just abandoning the ham bands not realizing that 80 and 160 are still generally in good shape even (especially so?) during a sunspot minimum.

Or perhaps it is just due to the fact that the ham population as a whole is getting older and older. When that happens, for health or other reasons ham radio takes a back seat as hams age. 90 percent or more of my QSO's are with hams over 60 years of age. Most of the remaining 10 percent are with hams in their 50's with a few 40's now and then. I can count on my fingers the QSO's in 2009 I've had with hams under 40.

A look at our NAQCC members bears that out. We will hit 4,000 members in a week or two now. I would estimate that of those 4,000 perhaps only 400-500 have taken part in any of our club on-air activities. And that may be a generous estimate since I haven't done any research to back up my figures.

It's a sad state of affairs that doesn't bode well for ham radio.

Monday, November 30, 2009 9:26 AM - Geo N1EAV asked about the firewall and antivirus programs I use here. I'll repeat my email answer to him here in case anyone else is interested.

I use the Comodo firewall: http://personalfirewall.comodo.com/download_firewall.html

It also has a free antivirus program in the suite, but I like Avast better so I only use their firewall. If you wish to do the same, then tell it to only install the firewall when you run the install/setup program.

and Avast antivirus: http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html

I tried MSS, but it slowed one of my applications (I forget which now) to a crawl, so I uninstalled it. Your mileage may vary. Other than the slowdown it did its job very well.

Geo also said he had trouble trying to view the diary archives on my SkyDrive site so since SkyDrive now gives me 25 GB of storage, I am removing the .zip files and replacing them with the text versions. Follow the link above to an instruction page on the best way to view them. -30-

Sunday, November 29, 2009 6:16 PM - I don't know. I just didn't feel like getting in the contest today. For one thing it was near or above 60 degrees today with a lot of sunshine. So since that doesn't happen all that often this time of year I had to take advantage of it. I took 3 long walks plus another shorter one with Joe. Let's see what's on my pedometer.... 10.06 miles and I may add to that before the day ends. It's still in the mid 50's outside and unless the predicted rain moves in, I might just try to squeeze in another walk.

I did wake up around 4AM and listened on the bands. The first station I heard was a well over S9 AO3T. Being half asleep it didn't dawn on me that was a Spanish station so I didn't try him until a little later and then he had faded considerably. I checked 80 but didn't hear much DX at all there except for a couple average strength Caribbean stations in countries I didn't need and several other very weak stations I couldn't even ID. I never did hear any hoped-for KL7's and not even any KH6's as I heard and worked in the ARRL DX test earlier in the year. I went back to 40 again and heard a decently strong JA station. I think it was JA3YBK if I remember right. I called him several times, but he wasn't getting any answers and wasn't hearing me at all. Never even got a ? from him. Sure wish I could have worked him to complete my 40M WAC. Seems I just can't work Asia on that band. I also need Asia on 80M to complete my WAC there, but I don't see much hope of getting that. I do think I will get WAC on 40 some day though, either a JA or working into Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel or something else in that area of the world. -30-

Saturday, November 28, 2009 6:53 PM - Not much worked or even heard in the CQWW DX contest. The bands are really lousy. I even listened to one of the best contest stations in the world K5GO calling CQ after CQ on 20M with no responses. Likewise WO4O. What DX I did hear was quite weak and the few that I tried weren't hearing me at all. I did work a couple Caribbean stations and the one EU station I worked came on 40M just after sunset here, and it was a fairly easy QSO. I did have to repeat the 'P' in my call a couple times for OK5W, but I got the QSO. I think I will try a little harder tomorrow as the big contest stations will be straining their ears more then and may hear my minimal QRP signals a little better since they will have worked most of the strong signals by then. I also may try 80M very late tonight. I heard a few KL7 stations on the higher bands, and maybe I'll be lucky enough to find and work one on 80 to finish my 80M WAS. Also that would add a zone and country onto my 80M totals.

That OK5W I worked enabled me to finish the NAQCC November challenge. I had needed an 'O' for several days now to complete it. I figured I would easily get it in the contest, but it wasn't that easy till I heard OK5W on 40M. I didn't hear any other DX calls with an 'O' in them until then.

Now I'll finish this update and go get my streak QSO from someone in the contest. -30-

Friday, November 27, 2009 8:13 PM - I didn't get in much walking on Thanksgiving so I took a couple good long walks today. It was a cold day here. I don't think the temp got out of the 30's or if it did, only into the very low 40's. Plus a strong breeze made it seem even colder. There were even a few flakes of s**w from time to time.

I spent some time with my neighbors. Nancy had two of her young grandkids there, and we watched the movie, "Free Willie".

Otherwise I cleared a spot for my Christmas tree and brought the box of ormanents down from the attic. Yes, ormanents is not a typo. That's what Ed King of Party Line used to call Christmas tree ornaments to distinguish them from other kinds of ornaments. I think I've talked about Party Line before here in the diary. It was one of the first talk shows on radio back in the 1950's, airing on KDKA from 10 to Midnight. Ed and his wife Wendy would take calls from listeners, but only they heard the callers. They relayed what the callers had to say. I thought that made a lot of sense and perhaps should be considered again today. I think it would eliminate a lot of the wackos who call in to talk shows nowadays if they knew they weren't going to get their own voices on the air. Ed and Wendy also had quizzes each night called the "Party Pretzel" meaning you had to untwist the question to straighten out the pretzel and come up with the right answer. Another popular feature of the show was the telling of ghost stories (some real, some made up) during the month of October each year. It was overall just a great show, and the only talk show I have ever liked and regularly listened to. -30-

Thursday, November 26, 2009 9:19 PM - As Thanksgiving approaches a close, I'd like to give thanks for one special thing among many others that I have to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for being able to have friends like Tom WY3H and his wife JoAnne and twin sons Ethan and Ariel. I spent most of the day with them today and enjoyed every moment of it.

The day started with Tom picking me up and he, I, and Ethan then delivering 64 Thanksgiving meals to a local disabled veterans center plus 2 more meals to a handicapped veteran and his wife who are homebound while awaiting repair of their van.

Next it was home to Tom's for a little football watching while JoAnne prepared dinner. What a dinner - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, squash, cranberry sauce, applesauce, and pumpkin pie. There was so much there, I might have even forgotten an item or two. Everything was delicious, as it has been every time I've eaten there.

After that we went out to take a couple of hunting pictures that Tom needed for an article he is writing on deer hunting.

Back home again where I helped Tom get his new email addresses set up on his computer. I also installed a couple of free chess games for Tom who is an avid chess player.

All too soon the day came to an end and Tom brought me home about an hour and a half ago as I write this.

If your Thanksgiving was just half as good as mine, then I'm delighted because you also then had an exceptionally wonderful Thanksgiving. -30-

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 7:59 PM - There are a lot of things I could talk about today, but being as it is Thanksgiving eve, I think that should be the topic of this entry. Once again I turn to one of my heroes, Newt Gingrich who says it much more eloquently and accurately than I can with my own words:

"To Whom Do We Give Thanks? On the south side of the Rotunda in the United States Capitol Building is a painting titled The Embarkation of the Pilgrims. The painting depicts the deck of the ship as it departs from Holland for the New World in 1620. Look, and you will see that the pilgrims are praying. A rainbow rises on the left side of the painting, symbolizing hope and divine protection.

The faith in God that the pilgrims exhibited on embarkation from the old world became thankfulness to the same God on disembarkation in the New World.

This is the origin of the day of Thanksgiving we celebrate this week. We give thanks, not merely to one another, or to some undefined spiritual force, but to God.

It doesn't mean we're all Christians. It means we're Americans; lucky citizens of a nation uniquely rooted in faith in our Creator.

Tomorrow We Give Thanks to the God of Washington and Lincoln

To the God whom George Washington, in the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1789, called on all Americans to "unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."

To the God to whom Abraham Lincoln looked in the midst of the Civil War as he made Thanksgiving an annual national holiday in 1863:
"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

Tomorrow we give thanks to the Creator who is the source of our sovereignty.

We pause in gratitude to He who has endowed us with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And just as no government has granted these rights, no government can legitimately take them away.

This is the freedom the pilgrims prayed for, Washington fought for and Lincoln stood for.

As important as it is to give thanks tomorrow is to remember, as Americans have before us, to whom we give thanks.

May you and your family have a happy, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving."

All I can add to that is a hearty Amen! -30-

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:57 PM - While doing the changeover for our NAQCC web site, I noticed that the guestbook was not working, and after a little more searching I found that my guestbook here was not working all the time. So today I fixed up both my and the NAQCC guestbooks. They should work with any browser/OS/ISP combination now. You might want to do me a favor and try them out. If you just want to try and not really leave a message, put the word "TEST" in the comments field and I'll just acknowledge receipt, but won't post it.

Bruce WY7N emailed to express his appreciation for my posting his astronomy info a few days ago. He also asked if I was able to watch the MLS Cup. Yes, I watched it on ESPN 360. Or at least the second half, overtime, and penalty kicks. Bruce lives not far from the RSL stadium so I'm sure he was delighted with the results.

I'm going to help Tom WY3H take meals to veterans on Thanksgiving as we did last year. Then I'll be going to his place for Thanksgiving dinner.

Time now to go get my QSO of the day probably somewhere around 3560 or so. -30-

Monday, November 23, 2009 11:05 PM - We got some bad news today from our NAQCC Internet host - UsaTek. They will no longer host our site. So today I shifted our NAQCC site over to Windstream. The new URL is http://home.windstream.net/yoel/ if you visit the site and would like to change your favorites, bookmarks, links, etc.

If you find any reference to UsaTek on my site or the NAQCC site, please let me know so I can fix it.

My QSO for the day was with frequent diary contributor Paul N0NBD. Our 80M QSO didn't last long due to a band change, but it was nice to contact Paul again in another mode besides email. HI. -30-

Sunday, November 22, 2009 7:46 PM - A pretty nice day today. Bright sunshine made it seem warmer than the actual temperature. Nice enough to go fishing for about an hour. The same results as the last few times I went though - not even any good bites, in fact none at all. Still it was nice to sit in the sun by the river.

I see Jimmy Johnson won his 4th consecutive NASCAR championship today. That is truly remarkable with the eveness of competition these days. I think it says a lot for the driving skills of Johnson. There's not a whole lot of difference in the cars nowadays with NASCAR inspecting just about every component down to the smallest nut and bolt on the cars.

A couple other things were or will be decided today in sports. The CFL Grey Cup finalists were decided today when Montreal beat BC and Saskatchewan beat Calgary. This evening the MLS Cup will be decided between LA and Real Salt Lake. I might watch some of that match. I think it is on ESPN 360 on the Internet. -30-

Saturday, November 21, 2009 8:05 PM - I spent several hours today updating things on the NAQCC web site. It's hard keeping every little thing up to date when you manage a web site containg hundreds of pages virtually by yourself. The changes kind of pile up on you before you have the chance to get them corrected.

A couple things that took quite a bit of time concerned archiving our newsletters. To conserve our bandwidth on the NAQCC web site provided by UsaTek (now Windstream), I've been converting our older newsletters to .pdf files and storing them on my SkyDrive site with links to them from the NAQCC site, of course. In the process, I discovered I kind of chopped up a couple special editions of the newsletters. One dealt with the history of the club and the other with the KX-1 kit building project that Mike KC2EGL and I did and documented last winter. Today I put all the sections on the project that were spread over 5 newsletters into one large .pdf file and posted it on the SkyDrive site. I re-read it as I was doing it, and it really is interesting, I must say without bragging. If you're contemplating building a KX-1 or any kit actually, there are a lot of good tips in the article. You might benefit from reading it and maybe avoid a pitfall or two here and there. Just go to the newsletter archives or past issues section of the NAQCC web site and follow the directions to get to the article. Oh, and if you do so, give me some feedback about it.

Other than that, a couple walks with myself and one with Joe occupied some more time. I also processed logs from our NAQCC sprint. For some relaxing, I watched some football on ESPN 360 on the Internet. I wanted to check out Boise State in a replay of their Friday game. They played (and beat) Utah State 52-21 to remain undefeated for the season. It will be intriguing to see how they fare in the BCS games after the regular college season is over, especially if they beat Nevada and New Mexico State and remain undefeated. BSU has a left-handed QB in Kellen Moore and I've always been partial to left-handers even though I'm not left-handed. I guess that goes back to my favorite team, the Oakland Raiders and lefty QB Ken Stabler. -30-

Friday, November 20, 2009 9:00 PM - You know what I find the most fun in ham radio? I like just getting on the bands and tuning around to see who is on. Or even better, calling CQ never knowing who is going to answer me. That mystery whets my interest. I don't like making skeds to work someone. I never use spotting of any kind to find out who is on the bands. I'm not a net person. I've never used a repeater nor have any intentions of doing so. Anything that pre-determines a QSO, I will not use.

I think my method of operating has proven to be very successful. I don't need all those crutches. I've made around 72,000 QSO's without them over my 46 years as a ham radio operator.

I've mentioned this before, but some of my most exciting QSO's have come in answer to my CQ's like VK6HQ near Perth, Australia or TA3D in Turkey to mention but two. Had I gotten those QSO's as the result of a spot or sked, they would have been nowhere near as exciting.

More recently, just tuning across 30M and finding KL7J and working him to complete my 30M WAS was extremely exciting. It took over a dozen years to go from 49 to 50 states on that band, and I will always remember that QSO. Had I used a sked or spot to get KL7, there would not have been that excitement, and I probably wouldn't remember such a QSO as long as I will this one.

If you want to experience such excitement, just get on the ham bands and tune around or call CQ. I guarantee you that will produce some exciting QSO's for you. -30-

Thursday, November 19, 2009 11:00 PM - A rainy day in Kittanning that ended any chance of us setting a record for the driest month in my 50 years of weather record keeping. We had .67 inches of rain today and now are looking at another short dry spell until Wednesday or so.

It was a good day for doing things indoors. I spent a good deal of it still processing logs from last evening's NAQCC sprint. We are getting close to a record number of logs submitted for one of our sprints. So far I'm holding on to second place overall with still a couple of folks to report who have a chance of pushing me down a couple more notches. K4BAI is ahead of me now, but it's no disgrace to finish next to him. He is one of the top notch contesters in the World and is my contesting hero. Still if I had been able to complete a QSO with N0TA in CO on 40M, I would be ahead of BAI by 8 points.

The logs are still coming in, so I better get to them as it's getting late and near bedtime again. Where do these days go? -30-

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 11:59 PM - Actually it's past midnight. I almost forgot about the diary. I've been so busy processing logs from our NAQCC sprint. Conditions were great on 80M here and I wound up with my 2nd most QSO's (46), 2nd most mults (22), and best score (3980) ever in one of our sprints. Still I believe when all logs are in that will only be good enough for 4th or 5th highest score overall in this sprint. The southern stations especially were racking up the QSO's at a very good rate. That's all for now. Time for bed after a couple more things to get done. -30-

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:10 PM - I guess I have to write my own entry tonight as I've run out of feedback for the time being.

Tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I hope conditions are better than they were last month. They could well be since 80M was very good the past couple evenings, but as we all know, things change very quickly in the world of ham radio propagation. The past couple of years our November sprints fell on Thanksgiving eve if I recall correctly. That didn't really seem to hurt our turnout though. It will be interesting to see what the turnout is this year away from Thanksgiving.

Overall, I'm very happy with the turnout in out sprints. If you look at the percentage of our membership that turns out for the sprints, it compares favorably with other club sprints, and is even better than a few of them. That says a lot for the quality of our members, and we appreciate their support of the NAQCC.

This has certainly been an unusual November weatherwise. Very mild and very dry. The first 17 days have seen only a total of .02 inches of rain. If that keeps up, we could have the driest month ever in my records that I've been keeping since 1959 - well 1962 for the precipitation records. October 1963 holds the record for now. And I think it will stand as there is an area of rain on the way here that should give us .25 to .50 inches of rain late Wednesday through early Friday. It does look like our mild temperatures will continue though with highs to be in the 50's every day at least for the next 10 days. Without checking my records to be sure, I think every day in November so far has had a high of at least 50 with many days in the 60's and a few in the 70's. It sure would be nice if that continues through the winter until March, then warms up. Very very unlikely though, but we can dream. -30-

Monday, November 16, 2009 9:50 PM - Let's use these comments from Bruce WY7N as my diary entry for today. I found them interesting, and I think you will also. I took out a bit of personal info.

"Hi John, .....I regularly peruse your diary entries. Once a week or two, I read through them to see what you have been doing lately.
I just read your Thursday, 12Nov2009 entry.
I too enjoy astronomy. For a while I was infatuated with the equipment. I still fantasize significant telescope access. However, I think I began to enjoy astronomy the most when I simply made myself aware of what is going on in the sky at the moment, and over time. This was prompted by my puzzlement over the Boy Scout Astronomy merit badge requirements. None of them require access to a telescope! I call this QRP astronomy.
Notwithstanding the statements of the prior paragraph, I still remember very clearly the surprise I felt when I first took a peek at the Seven Sisters through a glass. WOW indeed!
My most recent astronomical activity is to simply learn to locate M31 again.
M31 is supposed to be a 'naked eye' object and is an indicator of 'good seeing' conditions. But I had never had the experience of seeing it without the use of tools to enhance my natural light gathering abilities.
One dark and moonless night a few months back, I stumbled across my old copy of The Messier Album. It included some of my observation notes, decades old. On impulse I grabbed my binoculars and went outside to find M31. It was harder than I remembered from my youth, but I finally nabbed it.
As in prior observations, the view simply didn't measure up to expectations heightened by popular photographs. The word 'disappointing' comes to mind. However, for the first time, I took the time to learn to 'see' it without light gathering assistance. In succeeding months I have continued to practice finding it and observing QRP style.
Just a few evenings ago I happened to track it down and take a look. That was the first time it was readily apparent to me how large this object is. I had read that it takes up more space in the sky than the full moon, but that was the first time I had observed this to be true of myself.
These 'QRP' observations are still nothing spectacular. I still want to observe M31 through a huge, wide angle, dobsonian. However, pondering the implications of what is being observed does evoke a WOW sensation. This 'object' consists of billions of stars! It is unbelievably distant! Isn't this ultimate QRP DX!
I'm tempted to go take another look right now; but alas, I will never be a devoted astronomer. I don't like to let my bed go to sleep without me in it. I feel its gravitational attraction pulling at me right now.
73, Bruce-WY7N" -30-

Sunday, November 15, 2009 8:15 PM - Carl N5XE emailed and asked if I keep a record of total QSO's per band. I referred him to a couple pages in the QRP section of my web site. I also just ran a SQL query in my Microsoft Access log that spit out the following stats which include every QSO as KN3WWP and K3WWP since April 3, 1963:

Overall - 71,444 QSO's
160M - 3,214
80M - 13,547
40M - 28,039
30M - 2,948
20M - 11,202
17M - 463
15M - 6,336
12M - 234
10M - 5,437
6M - 24

Overall at 5 watts or less - 52,143
160M - 3,214
80M - 9,059
40M - 14,358
30M - 2,705
20M - 10,348
17M - 463
15M - 6,302
12M - 234
10M - 5,437
6M - 23

The difference between the two lists as many of you know is due to my work in the 60's, 70's, and 80's when I did run more than 5 watts output. Also the one errant 6M QSO at 100W that I explained last year in the diary when it happened. But some of those earlier QSO's were technically QRP QSO's as the definition of QRP was different up to a point. I'm not going into that here though. I just wanted to answer Carl's question, and I thought maybe a few of you might be interested also. -30-

Saturday, November 14, 2009 6:21 PM - I've just posted my new poll for November 15 through December 14. I hope you'll take time to cast your vote. This is somewhat of a repeat poll with the choices a little different than previously. It's also one that will probably have somewhat different results than it did a few years ago with the change in the makeup of the ham population due to ageing. I think you'll know what I'm trying to say when you look at it and cast your vote which I hope you will do.

Here's Paul N0NBD's take on the Veterans Day entry (and telescopes as well): "I very much enjoyed your Veterans day entry. I called my Dad and had a visit. He is 84 and a Navy veteran of the South Pacific battles in WWII. I served a Navy hitch starting in 1970. Also I enjoyed the telescope report. I got to look through one YEARS ago and have never pursued getting one, I really should, I think it is fascinating. Have a good one John de Paul N0NBD"

Mike made the comment to me when we were observing that if there were such a thing as a time machine, he'd go back to his college years and study astronomy. It really is fascinating, even with the multitude of astronomy pictures available everywhere. Pictures are no substitute to actually seeing the actual object, even though the pictures may be a thousand times clearer having been taken with telescopes many times the size of a backyard scope or even with cameras aboard spacecraft. I guess you could liken it to watching sports on TV versus actually attending a sporting event. -30-

Friday, November 13, 2009 9:04 PM - Remember how not too long ago we were wondering how long it had been since we saw the solar flux in the 70's? Well as of today with the exception of 4 days at 69 in early October, the SF has been 70 or above for 56 straight days. There's also what looks like an active region on the sun about to rotate into view in a day or so that could boost the SF back up to the low 80's again. That remains to be seen and is just my own observation. I haven't checked (nor seldom do check) any propagtion forecasts beyond the WWV report.

I said I got some good response to my Veterans Day entry. Here's an example from Glenn K3SWZ: "Hi John, Your diary entry was very well put -- thanks!! When people thank me for my service, I am embarrassed, as I didn't do much of anything, at least in my mind... Communications types in the Air Force don't see much action, hi.... I am VP of a Veterans Group in Harrisburg (National Sojourners) that is made up of all veterans who are also members of the Masonic fraternity. We put out flags each year in Harrisburg for Veterans Day, one for each death on the "war on terror" Pix of those are attached.. (see below) This year they numbered 5,100+ It is a somber duty and we find the task very rewarding... Each time you want to grumble about it being cold, damp or my back hurts, you just have to remind yourself what each flag stands for and somehow you keep plugging along... 73 de Glenn, K3SWZ New Cumberland, PA"
pix_diary_20091113_01 (82K)
pix_diary_20091113_02 (102K)

Impressive, isn't it. We owe a great debt of thanks to each of the 5,100 servicepersons represented by those flags for keeping our country safe from those bent on destroying it. Hopefully those kind of folks will keep coming forward to continue to defend us from terroristic attacks from without and within our country. -30-

Thursday, November 12, 2009 8:31 PM - I received some nice comments on my diary entry for yesterday. Thanks.

I had a good time last night. Mike KC2EGL brought his new telescope down here to get some practice using it. Although we had to battle some persistent cirrus clouds, there were enough openings to get in good views of several of my favorite celestial objects. Jupiter was the highlight of the evening as the only easily observed planet available at that time. Those of you familiar with astronomy will say that Neptune is currently near Jupiter and that's right, but with the clouds, we didn't really go searching for any faint objects and just stuck with the brighter easily found ones. When Mike gets more familiar with his scope, then maybe we'll go searching for some faint deep sky objects.

Some of the things we did observe included double stars Gamma Arietis, Epsilon Lyrae, and Albireo. We observed M31, the Andromeda galaxy and M57, the ring nebula in Lyra. The Pleiades in Taurus got a WOW from Mike. We also took a look a couple first magnitude stars - Vega and Aldebaran. The brilliant blue-white of Vega contrasted with the reddish Aldebaran nicely.

It would have been nicer had the sky been perfectly free of clouds and the temperature a bit warmer, although those two conditions actually oppose each other in the colder months of the year. When it's perfectly clear, it's generally much colder. It was down in the 30's when we decided to call it quits and come inside.

I think Mike got himself a really fine telescope and is going to have many great nights of observing with it. He also plans to try astrophotography, something I've never done - at least through my telescope. -30-

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2:42 PM - This week marked two important events in the history of Freedom in the World. Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the destroying of the Berlin Wall and symbolically the Iron Curtain which ultimately led to the downfall of the evils of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Today is Veterans Day which used to be called Armistice Day in honor of the signing of the pact that ended World War I. It's a day I proudly fly the flag that draped my dad's coffin when he passed away some 45 years ago. This is my way of honoring those brave men and women who gave their lives so that much of the World could enjoy the wonderful blessings of Freedom.

I could say a lot more about Freedom, but one of my heroes, Newt Gingrich says it much more eloquently than I could in this excerpt from his weekly newsletter to which I subscribe:

"This Veterans Day, I am reminded once again of the wonderful line at the end of the movie adaptation of James Michener's The Bridges at Toko Ri.

A Navy Admiral is reflecting on the sacrifice of airmen given the mission of destroying a group of heavily defended bridges during the Korean War. The men were successful, but at the cost of their lives, leading the Admiral to famously ask:

"Where do we get these men?"

Today, the question is "Where do we get these men and women?" and last week, the answer was Killeen, Texas.

Answer: Killeen, Texas

Killeen is the home of heroes this Veterans Day; men and women who prove that our servicemen and women don't leave their bravery and selflessness behind on the battlefield.

Killeen was also the site of terrorism last week; proof that we are not immune from Islamic extremism inside our borders, even on our military bases.

Killeen is the home of Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a Department of Defense civilian police officer and an Army veteran.

Sgt. Munley was nearby getting her car tuned-up when the 911 call came in. Without waiting for backup, she was the first law enforcement official to arrive on the scene at Fort Hood.

"She Fired Until He Dropped. The Killing Ended."

Much has been written about Sgt. Munley's heroism, but few have described her behavior in the heat of a confrontation with the Fort Hood shooter better than the editorial writers at the Las Vegas Review-Sun

"Could Sgt. Munley, hit in the wrist and both thighs, really be blamed if she'd ducked for cover? She didn't. From all reports, she stood her ground under fire, calmly reacquiring her sight picture, putting four rounds right where she wanted, in the advancing murderer's center of mass. She fired until he dropped. The killing ended."

The Heroes Who Brought Down the Berlin Wall

This Veterans Day week also marks the celebration of another set of American heroes: The men and women who put their shoulders to the Berlin Wall and pushed -- until it finally fell 20 years ago this Monday.

Where did we get these men and women? From all across America and everywhere freedom and human dignity are valued.

For although the revolution in Eastern Europe occurred without a shot being fired, countless Americans -- not to mention Britons, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians -- sacrificed for that day.

Before there was a wall in Berlin, there was the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Communist regime in Moscow tried to literally starve West Berlin to death. President Harry S. Truman ordered an airlift to feed West Berliners and resist Soviet aggression. Seventy-one American and British servicemen lost their lives.

And before there was a victory for freedom, 20 years ago this week, there were unflinching advocates for freedom in Eastern Europe like Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.

These are the heroes we honor today.

Washington Seems More at Home with International Dictators Than America and Its Heroes

"Hero" is not a word we use a lot these days. We have a media dedicated to destroying, not showcasing, greatness. We have popular culture determined to celebrate victimhood rather than heroism. And we have a regime in Washington that seems more at home with international autocrats and dictators than America and its heroes.

But the inescapable fact of America is this: Ours is a country founded and defended, not by conciliation and sophisticated diplomatic gestures, but by honor, bravery and sacrifice.

Our heroes are not incidental to our nationhood but an essential part of it. Why? Because America is not, contrary to what our President believes, merely a nation among nations. We are, on our best days, closer to what Ronald Reagan believed: A shining city on a hill.

Take the Time Today to Thank a Veteran For His Service

The heroes of our city on a hill stretch back from Killeen, Texas, through a bloody 20th Century and a great Civil War, all the way to our founding.

They are the men who left a trail of blood in the snow of Northern Pennsylvania on Christmas night, 1776.

They are the men and women who serve today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So make sure you take the time today to thank a veteran for his or her service. Take the time to remember and honor a hero.

Because in doing so you are answering the Navy Admiral's question at Toko Ri.

Where do we get these men and women? From a nation that remains worthy of their sacrifice."

AMEN! -30-

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 6:58 PM - Yawn!! I think I'll take it easy today and let you, my readers write today's entry.

Bob N2SU - "Hi John: I am surprised to see another long-time US soccer fan. I, too go back to the glory days of the NASL, and even before that. My father introduced me to the game when I was about six years old (around 1964) back in the days when soccer was considered an ethnic sport. I can remember watching games on channel 11 in New York when clubs from Europe and South America would compete in something called the International Soccer League from Randall's Island, New York. When the NASL was born in 1968 it was carried on CBS but the league almost folded within a year. It took a while but when Pele signed with the Cosmos in 1975 people finally noticed that the game did exist in this country. Two years later soccer became a happening in these parts. In August of 1977 the Cosmos drew a then-North American attendance record of 77,691 at Giants Stadium for a playoff game against Ft. Lauderdale (and yes, I was there). The atmosphere in the stadium was simply electric that night. They would draw lots of big crowds over the next few years (I was at all of those games) but when Warner Communications lost billions on the Atari video game system, the Cosmos lost all their high-priced players and the league would eventually fold after the 1984 season.

You remember the names well. A few others were Dennis Tueart, Steve Hunt, Tony Field, Nelsi Morais and Amercians Bobby Smith and Angelo DiBernardo. If you ever get the chance to see a film called "Once In a Lifetime", I heartily recommend it. It is a documentary on the heyday of the Cosmos and has some very interesting information on the history of the team and how it came to be in 1971. I know you don't have TV, but it has run on ESPN and the local sports networks in NYC. I have broadcast soccer at all levels short of the national team (High school, college, USL and MLS) and follow it closely, but American football and hockey are still my favorites.

I wonder how many responses you'll get from Europe. Anyway, thanks for a blast from the past and hope to catch you on the bands."

Paul N0NBD - "Hello John, It is neet the dedication of your friend to dig up and bed the trees down each year and I always enjoy the story. I had a neighbor 2 doors west that used to have a plant, "my mother called them elephant ears" Every fall this guy and his brother dug up the root ball, tied it in burlap and dragged it to his basement. The root ball was as big as a double tub. For several years I knew it was officially warm enough when I would see the hole digging to the west. I am not sure if the thing is still going or not as he dug it up and moved away. Have a good week and enjoy the warm wx while we have it de Paul N0NBD" -30-

Monday, November 09, 2009 9:13 PM - The weatherman blew it. It wasn't sunny today, but overcast just about all day. Instead of 70, we hit 64 for a high as a result of the clouds. Still that's a pretty good day for getting close to the middle of November, and I did go fishing, but only for about an hour or so. Got a few small bites - not good enough to even try to hook the fish.

I'm getting interested in watching some sports again, thanks to the ESPN 360 Internet site which provides many live sports broadcasts along with a ton of replays. Right now I'm in the midst of watching a rugby match between England and New Zealand. Last night I watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Calgary Stampeders in CFL action. I've also been watching some international soccer matches as well as some MLS soccer. I talked before about my love of Canadian football, but perhaps not about soccer. When the North American Soccer League was flourishing some 30+ years ago, I loved watching those matches, especially ones involving my favorite team, the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos really had a collection of great world-wide players like Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbaur, Carlos Alberto, Vladislaw Bogecevich, and of course Pele. Erol Yasin and American Shep Messing were goalkeepers. Just reeling off those few names from memory (hope the spelling is right) brings back a lot of memories. There were a lot of other great players in that league as well. Trevor Francis from the Detroit team jumps right into my mind. What a great goal scorer he was. I believe it was 7 goals he scored in one game when the Detroit team scored 10 in a game. I'm not going to take time now to look up to see how accurate my memory is. The point is that despite the great players, the USA just wasn't ready for soccer as one of its major sports at that time and the NASL floundered and died. I think now the sport has caught on, and the MLS should continue to flourish and grow.

I've always been fascinated by rugby, but never really followed the sport much and still don't understand all the rules of the game. One other sport that used to be featured on ESPN in its early days was Australian Rules Football. That was a wild, crazy, entertaining game. I'll have to check on the Internet and find out if any matches can be seen. -30-

Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:07 PM - Nothing like a good hard day's work to make one feel good. Ange and I buried the last 4 (big) fig trees today putting in about 7 hours of solid labor and good exercise doing it. I was thinking that perhaps many of you reading my diary don't know what some of these things I keep referring to without further explanations mean. Fig trees are not native to the Pennsylvania type of climate with its cold winters, and extreme means must be taken to protect them from the cold or quite simply they will die or if they don't die, then they don't produce any figs. The way that Ange and his father before him protect the trees is by burying them for the late fall, winter, and early spring months roughly from early November through early April or so. The burying procedure is best told in pictures so I refer you to my SkyDrive site for that. Go here and click 'Slide Show' to see a slide show of the burial process.

I again used the SS to get my daily QSO for the 9th, so that makes a total of 2 QSO's in the SS this year. It is just too nice to be inside in early November with a temperature in the low 70's. I even shed my shirt today while working on the fig trees it was so nice and warm. Tomorrow is to be a repeat of today (without the fig trees to contend with) so I plan on getting in some fishing and definitely some walking.

Wednesday evening my friend Mike KC2EGL is going to bring his new telescope down here for a stargazing session. He just emailed me and said he had the scope out for a bit this evening looking at Jupiter, but still needs some lessons and practice using it. So we'll do that Wednesday. -30-

Saturday, November 07, 2009 7:57 PM - I was a bit surprised when I tuned in to get my streak QSO from the SS this evening. It seemed to me like activity in the SS was much lower than normal, at least on 80 meters where I was listening. I only stayed long enough to work N2NT to keep the streak going, so maybe I was just listening in a lull period. Although the number he gave me - 276 - seemed low for a big contest station like that so maybe activity was down.

As predicted this was a warm dry fall day today. I actually went for two long walks without any jacket or sweater and even started to sweat just a little. The next couple days will be pretty much the same if the predictions are right. I also went for a third long walk this evening, but with a jacket this time.

Early in the day Ange and I buried one of the remaining 5 big fig trees. He had to go somewhere so we just had a couple hours to work. Tomorrow the last two big trees in the garden near here and then the two at his house either Monday or maybe Wednesday depending on whether or not he has any substitute teaching assignments. It will be nice to get them done, although I'd sooner it was time to dig them up in the spring as that means good weather is returning. Now the burials just kind of herald the miserable weather of winter. -30-

Friday, November 06, 2009 8:01 PM - I spent a good part of the day doing computer work for a friend. It was kind of chilly today so it was a good day to be working inside. However things are going to change this weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's. I might even get in some fishing, although the water is pretty cold now and I doubt the fish will be all that active. I'll have to get lucky and land the bait on their little 'fish plate' right in front of their mouths or they probably won't go looking for it. I guess you can probably do that if you have a boat and a fish finder, but I have neither. Can't afford them, it's too much work taking care of a boat, and it makes fishing too easy and eliminates a lot of the challenge to fishing. That's how I look at it.

This weekend is one of the better contests in which you actually have to copy the exchange rather than just logging 599 and some other small bit of info for each contact. Of course I'm talking about the ARRL Sweepstakes. However with the nice weather coming up, I probably won't do much at all in the contest except maybe use it for my daily QSO. There won't be many more nice days to hang around outside, but there will be other contests coming up this winter when there's a foot of sn*w on the ground and temperatures are well below fre*zing. -30-

Thursday, November 05, 2009 7:28 PM - I thought the Weather World program from Penn State University had a clever opening last evening. For those of you not familiar with the program, the two hosts have a little 30-45 second banter between themselves between the intro and the forecast. They said something like it sure is NOvember like today - NO sun - NO warmth - NO leaves. There are a lot of other negatives you can apply to this month - NO light in the evening - NO fishing - NO pleasant walks, and on and on. For anyone suffering from depression, this absolutely has to be one of the worst months with very little positive to be said about it. I guess there are a couple of things to be thankful for, and they deal with giving thanks. On November 11, we thank all the service veterans for fighting to keep our country free. We owe our freedoms in large part to them. Then later in the month it's the feast of Thanksgiving where we again give thanks for our freedom in being able to enjoy the wonderful meals that we do in this country because of our free enterprise system. It's also a time for prayer that we can continue to hold on to our freedoms and not have them taken away from us. -30-

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 10:49 PM - I spent most of today getting the list of names of NAQCC members ready for subscribing to our new NAQCC-News mail list. Tomorrow I'll be subscribing the 3,441 names on the list which was compiled from the 8 separate lists that our emailers have been using to send out our NAQCC newsletter announcements. If all goes well tomorrow then we'll have a mail list with which we can send out timely club news items as well as our regular newsletter announcements by simply posting the info to the mail list which will re-distribute it to all signed up members. It will be a nice and needed feature as the NAQCC prepares to reach the 4,000 member mark in another month or so. -30-

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 8:57 PM - Here's an exotic way of zero beating sent as a diary comment by Geoffrey AE4RV. "Regarding proper CW tuning, there is a very sophisticated and also very easy way to zero beat a CW frequency visually, by using the waterfall display on a computer set up for digi-modes. Just tune the radio until the signal you want to work is on your sidetone frequency, visually. It takes about 1.2 seconds. Particularly useful for the tone-deaf or lazy, I suppose, but if one has the setup available, it is really convenient. I usually do it by ear but I am not above throwing the technology at hand at a problem.

I realize this might be a controversial method to a CW-only op, and that wide-band digi-modes can be a real nuisance, but a lot of hams have sound card interfaces and can easily use this method to aid CW tuning..... I am interested in your ongoing zero-beat/rig experiment...please be sure and report back."

Oh I will. I want to get a lot more data first though.

Other than voting and burying a couple more fig trees (six down and six to go now), nothing much out of the ordinary to mention about today. It's depressing to see it getting dark so early now with standard time back in effect. However in just a month and 4 days now we will have the earliest sunset of the year here near the 40th parallel north. So that's something to look forward to, even though the gain of evening light the first month or so after that date doesn't amount to much. It is going in the right direction though. -30-

Monday, November 02, 2009 9:06 PM - As I said a couple weeks ago when writing about zero beating, I was going to keep track of the rigs I work and how far off zb they were.

So far I've gathered 17 reports. Of the 17, only 7 were close enough to be called zero beat. That is probably within 20 Hz or so of my frequency. Farthest off was 570 Hz high in freq, and ranged down to 290 Hz low in frequency. Oddly enough both extremes came from ICOM rigs, a 756P2 and a 706. The zb's came from a variety of rigs including a rather old TS-520. I also kept track of drift direction, down, up, or stable in frequency. That started off with two that drifted low, and after that, the last 15 were stable in frequency.

That's just a quick summary. I plan to gather a lot more stats to give a better analysis to see if any conclusion can be drawn as to whether non-zb is a fault of the rig, op, or both. Of course I'll never get a large enough sample to produce completely accurate results, but I think it will nevertheless prove interesting.

Along with tracking rig data, I'm also starting work on our November NAQCC Challenge, as usual an alphabet challenge dealing with words relating to Thanksgiving.

I just finished posting all our NAQCC challenge rules for January through December 2010. We have some traditional ones and some newly conceived ones for 2010, thanks to our NAQCC President Tom WY3H who has taken over managing the challenges now.

One thing that is very rewarding to me is working someone, telling them about the NAQCC, and then finding their application in my email shortly after the QSO is over. That happened tonight with Phil, WA1JHV, whose application I'll be processing shortly, following a very nice rag chew on 80M. I'm looking forward to the day not too far off now when I'll be assigning #4000 to someone. Only about 55 to go now. -30-

Sunday, November 01, 2009 7:57 PM - Every once in a while I hear that there is a lot of discussion on this Internet forum, or on this mail list, or other such types of communication about how ham radio seems to be dying out, and the participants are complaining about the dying out over and over again. Well...DUH!! If they'd get up off their ***es and fire up their rigs and get on the air, ham radio would be alive and well. There is entirely to much potential air time being wasted in other pursuits. Some of them are legitimate pursuits, but I can't see wasting time in an Internet chat room as being one of them, especially if the purpose of being in the chat room is to complain about the death of amateur radio. It just boggles my mind.

It also makes me glad to be associated with the NAQCC. We do not encourage our members to waste time by having a forum, chat room, mail reflector or any such nonsense. We encourage our members who wish to communicate, to do it via amateur radio, and more specifically via Morse Code.

Of course we do have a web site, but it is more just like what clubs had in the past. It's an information packet and newsletter, not a place to hang out and waste time. You go to the web site briefly to check on a piece of information, then get back on the air again.

Sorry for getting on the soapbox, but that irritates me. I'll get down now.

I'm going to make up my work sheet now for our NAQCC November Thanksgiving Alphabet challege. Oh, that's another way we encourage our members to get on the air and help preserve ham radio. These monthly challenges we have are designed solely for that purpose.

Those of you who regularly follow this diary know that I do not have television in my house here. That's just another time waster. However I have been able to watch a couple sporting events on ESPN 360. That's a really nice web site. I watched the opening MSL playoff game between Houston and Seattle. A lot of the events are on a delay basis, but some are live as well. So that will give me something to do (in addition to more ham radio) this winter when I'm more or less snowed in here. -30-

Saturday, October 31, 2009 9:30 PM - Another month is in the books, as the saying goes, but in reality, not yet. I've got just about all my end of month/beginning of month updates yet to do on the web site, the NAQCC, and life in general.

So I'm not going to take much time for this entry. It was a typical middle-of-fall day here. Cloudy, light rain, breezy, and chilly. I did manage a couple of walks, but it was not as pleasant as the warm summer walks. I also raked some leaves. I don't have any decidious trees, but get more than my share of leaves from the trees next door. They really need trimming back, but that's another story.

I wonder just why folks say they're running QRP and then say their power is 10, 13, 15 or so watts. I'm getting more and more of that, it seems. I think I went into that before about QRP and its definition. In one sense it has come to mean 5 watts power output or less, while the classic definition as a Q signal simply means to reduce power. So if you go from 1,000 watts to 800 watts that is QRP by that definition. Still I think the folks who say they are QRP at 13 watts aren't saying that because they just reduced power from 20 watts. Actually the whole list of Q signals have evolved in meaning as has much of the English language for that matter. And again that's another story.

I wish my friend from my WPIT days could be here saying, "but, that's another story!" Tom McGough had his own unique way of putting real meaning into that phase, but that's yet another story. HI. -30-

Friday, October 30, 2009 7:16 PM - Doom and a carrier - topics for this entry.

Since I last wrote about Doom, I've played two more complete 30 level wads.

Plutonia 2 is a very involved wad with huge levels and intricate switching systems. Activating a door is something like travelling from NYC to Chicage to throw a switch that opens a door back in NYC. There's a lot of backtracking. Game play is very good though and it's very challenging overall. It took a lot of time to figure out some of the intricacies in some of the levels.

Scythe is similar in one way to the original Doom. There are some very easy levels at the beginning which progress to harder levels as the game goes along. Level 30 is absolutely awesome. There's no shooting rockets at the "devil's head" to end the game as in many wads. You 'just' have to kill over 800 monsters to win the level. Many of the monsters are cyberdemons, and there is an abundance of archviles to bring back to life many of the monsters you already killed. I played the level in God mode. I really don't see how any normal person could make it through that level without 'cheating' unless they are a supreme expert doom player.

NAQCC President Tom WY3H has been in contact with the ARRL about the mystery strong carrier that has been showing up on 40 meters around 7039.5 kHz. As a result, the ARRL has filed a complaint with the FCC. Here's what the ARRL had to say in an email to Tom:

"Good morning Tom,
Nothing specific yet, I did ask the FCC to check it out and they opened a case on it. Other later reports indicate some type of modulation is being heard, primarily digital, someone suggested WSJT and that it could be hams making normal QSOs but due to the constant nature of most reports, that doesn't seem likely. Here is a light-hearted look at the mode. http://www.pe2pe.eu/WSJT_on_HF.htm. It's possible there are two different signals being heard on or near the frequency.
Chuck Skolaut, K0BOG
Field & Regulatory Correspondent
ARRL, The national association for Amateur Radio"

Let's hope that something can be done about this interference to CW near the 40M QRP frequency. Soon the digital crap will be taking over the whole CW areas of the ham bands. -30-

Thursday, October 29, 2009 2:24 PM - I'm just sitting here at the computer getting some odds and ends caught up on, and thought I'd get my diary entry written early since I might go and watch the Halloween parade this evening. It's a nice late October day, although a bit cool at just around the low 50's. The sun is just breaking out so that may warm it up a bit.

Right now, I think I'll go for a walk and stop off at the grocery store to get a sales flyer to see what I can buy on sale this coming week. Grocery prices are really skyrocketing the past few months now. One example is oyster crackers. They went from just over a dollar to $1.69 a package now, and I bet the package is a little smaller. That's just for the generic brand too. The name brand is $3.69 for a similar sized package. Whew! If that keeps up, how are people going to eat? I have to make use of sale items and coupons to get by here. I don't foresee things getting any better either.

I think I've moved up a step in my relationship with Joe. Yesterday afternoon, Bruce was holding him on their swing when I came out on our porch. Joe looked over at me and Bruce said he started trembling. He often does that when he gets excited at seeing Bruce or Nancy after they've been away for a little bit. But I think that's the first time he's done that for me. He has always seemed glad to see me, but no trembling till yesterday that I know of. -30-

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 7:21 AM - I got good response about Sara's video I posted the other day. Well, today is the 45th anniversary of a wonderful campaign speech by one of my heroes for another of my heroes who incidentally was a ham with the call of K7UGA. Aha, now you know I'm speaking about Barry Goldwater who ran for president in 1964 and unfortunately lost. Who was the speaker? A former actor who did win the presidential election in 1980 and 1984. That's right, Ronald Reagan. I'm listening to that speech right now and it's scary how closely it still applies today. Should you want to listen to this 30 minute speech sometime, it's here -30-

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:23 PM - Today was a busy day working on a friend's computer and printer. That took up a good part of the afternoon, but we made good progress, and that was important. Actually that was part one of her problem we solved - getting a new printer hooked up to her new computer. I had some trouble getting the install program to finish, but finally traced it to Norton Anti-virus/Firewall. When I temporarily disabled that, it installed like a dream. That took some time, so transferring some software from her old to new computer had to wait for another day. Her computer runs Windows Vista, and that was the first time I've really used Vista. Like all Windows versions before it, Vista works like a dream, and has a lot of great features not found on XP.

I know Vista is a pretty old system now, but I never upgrade until Microsoft comes out with at least one full service pack for a new operating system. If you think about it with the millions of computers active in the world today, there is no possible way for Microsoft to test their software on the literally millions of different configurations those millions of computers represent. I prefer to wait until any software has been thoroughly field tested to the point of a service pack being issued before I will upgrade.

In this case however, I felt that, just like ME and 2000 between 98 and XP, Vista was a system put out like ME and 2000 to fill a gap while Windows 7 was being developed. I think that the series 98, XP, and 7 is the route to go in upgrading operating systems. So my next new computer will probably be purchased when SP-1 for 7 comes out.

The sun hasn't pushed the snooze button yet. The SF remained above 80 again today. Since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy here and I don't have any other big projects that I know of, perhaps I'll just check the higher bands and see what this latest little flurry of solar activity has done to them, if anything. -30-

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:55 PM - From Carl N5XE, "Just checked...Solar Flux up to 81 with 28 sunspots! Come on sun...". Yup, we're still going up the SF scale. Can this be the real awakening, or will the Sun press the snooze button again. Stay tuned to this station for the exciting next episode of 'As the Sun Turns'.

Not only the solar weather is looking good, but the weather in this corner of the Earth is likewise looking good. Another mostly sunny day with temperatures in the upper 60's. I went over the 10 mile mark in walking for something like 5 of the last 6 days now. Also did some more outside work around the house. Of course spent some time with Joe also.

I didn't go fishing though as I was kind of discouraged by my last three trips with virtually no bites at all. As I've said before, I don't mind if they bite and I don't catch them, but when they don't even bite, that gets to be boring. I love keeping busy, and when they don't bite, that's hard to do. Then I tend to start picking up rocks and tossing them at pop cans or something like that. I could never make a good 'couch potato' by any means.

Conditions on 80M continue good. Wish they had been this good for our NAQCC anniversary celebration week. Only took a very few CQ's to get my streak QSO this evening from N2CHI in NY. -30-

Sunday, October 25, 2009 8:48 PM - Well, it took Paul N0NBD about 75 milliseconds after I posted yesterday's diary entry to email and say the last time the SF was at 76 was back on April 8 this year. Tnx Paul. And you know what? It's 76 again today. Now when's the last time it was 76 or higher two days in a row? HI. Maybe that same time?

Anyway 80M which shouldn't really be affected by a high SF that much, sure sounded good this evening. I had a 2XQRP/599 QSO with Tim K3XI in VA and heard another QRPer with a solid 599 signal from PA. Tom WY3H told me he worked Colombia on 17M late this afternoon. Are these all signs of better things to come on the bands? I sure hope so, as with the miserable winter weather coming, I'll be outside less and looking for things to do indoors. Working the ham bands would be one of the nicer things to be doing. -30-

Saturday, October 24, 2009 9:24 PM - Another somewhat rainy day today with strong breezes later in the day. Enough good breaks to go over the 10 mile mark walking and enjoying the beautiful fall colors which are right at their peak now. I took quite a few pictures, and if time ever permits, I'll post some of them on my SkyDrive site.

Some feedback on the Sara video from yesterday from Paul N0NBD, who writes, "Hello John, I am about to leave for a short fishing day but just listened to the young lady's speech. She makes some VERY good points. There is some hope after all. CUl de Paul N0NBD."

Yes, there is hope for sure with young people like her still around.

Another thing I did today was set up a Mail List for our NAQCC on QTH.net. It still needs fine tuning before we use it, but I think it will be very useful in disseminating news about QRP/CW to our nearly 4,000 members. It also will serve to remind members of the posting of our twice monthly NAQCC newsletter.

I also spent some good time with Joe today, and also with Nancy's twin 7 year old grandkids. I hadn't seen them for a while now.

So looking back on what I wrote, it was a pretty nice day here.

Well, I had this all ready to post, but when I went to update my propagation page, I noticed the SF today was 76!!! Can anybody remember the last time it was that high? I can't without looking it up which I'm not going to do now, but maybe for tomorrow's entry unless one of you beats me to it and lets me know. -30-

Friday, October 23, 2009 10:00 PM - This was kind of a dull drab day today with overcast skies and light rain a good deal of the time. The temperatures were not bad with a high of 63 though.

I really didn't do much of anything out of the ordinary today worth talking about, so I'm going to share a short video with you that a friend of mine pointed out to me. I was very moved by it, and am glad that there are young folks like this 11 year old girl named Sara who know what America is all about. As my friend pointed out, she didn't use a teleprompter for her speech and it doesn't look like she was even reading a script. What she said came straight from her heart. Watch it here! -30-

Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:03 PM - Another nice day here. A high temperature of 74 is not bad for this time of year here in Western PA. The clouds were on the increase all day and it looks like we're in for a rainy weekend. So I did some more yard cleanup work today and got in several walks. I'm just short of 12 miles for the day right now.

The bands sure have been empty the past few evenings and it's taken me quite a while to get my daily QSO. Just about 25 minutes of calling CQ this evening before I got any decent response. One station did call me, I think. He sent only his call slightly off frequency, and when I turned it back to him after my first round, I never heard a trace of him again. So maybe he wasn't calling me, but just fooling around.

I was kind of discouraged by the lack of biting by the fish the past couple days, so I decided not to go today. Maybe if we get a break in the rain the next couple days, I'll give it a try to see if the rainfall got them going again. Not much time left in my fishing season now, so I'll probably wind up in the 120's for the number of fish caught which will be only my 13th best year since 1992. -30-

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 9:58 PM - If you look at my QSO of the day table, that's not a mistake. The same station KD8JRB answered my CQ yesterday and today. Our first QSO suffered from a lot of QSB and QRN. The one tonight was better and he had an interesting story to tell. He was a USCG radio op back in 1963 and of course used CW then. It took a long time, but he got back to CW just about a year ago when his son helped him get a ham license. As I told him, it's always nice when a newcomer to ham radio uses CW.

Today was pretty much a copy of yesterday in more ways than the QSO also. So I won't bother listing all the details again. Actually about the only thing I did today that I didn't do yesterday was to get rid of the Siberian tomato plant I had brought indoors. It just didn't make it. So that means my total of tomatoes for the year was 208 plus the 4 left on the Siberian plant.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, it might be another day pretty much like today, and that's good, because these last couple days have had beautiful weather and quite a bit of relaxation for me. Oh, one other difference today - I got shut out fishing. They were biting lightly on my peanut butter bread, but I couldn't hook them. Absolutely nothing touched my night crawler. As I said, the water is very cold now, and I'm sure that has slowed down the activity of the fish quite a bit. So if you don't throw the bait near to them, they don't do much searching around for it. -30-

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:34 PM - This was a fairly relaxing day for a change. I walked Joe with Bruce early this morning, had some brunch, then Bruce came over to do some computer work. Joe came along and seemed to enjoy his visit over here. He seemed to be more relaxed than he had been in previous visits. After that, I went fishing for about 2 1/2 hours, and caught a 22 inch carpsucker just as I was getting ready to leave with a shutout. Next it was helping Ange clean up the garden getting ready for winter. Gee, it was hard to type that word. I hate to see it coming. I'd sooner be planting in the spring. A supper, then a walk in the park. Home again and over to see Joe who was alone with Nancy and Bruce going out for a dinner. I walked Joe for about 15 minutes, and then we sat on my porch just watching things go by, what little there was of that on this dead end street. I guess we sat there about 45 minutes or so. Then I took Joe over home, and came back here for another quick walk down to the park and back, had a snack, got my daily QSO, and am now doing some computer work including typing this entry, obviously. Not a bad day after all the hectic ones lately, and tomorrow should be more of the same. Oh, my computer work for the afternoon today was cancelled, hence the fishing. -30-

Monday, October 19, 2009 6:13 PM - Things have quieted down nicely today after the big stressful week with the NAQCC 5th Anniversary celebration and a myriad of other things.

I even had time now to log my eQSL's and LotW matches that had accumulated for a couple weeks. I'm now over the 10,000 mark in LotW matches at 10,015 at the moment.

It was a beautiful day weatherwise for a change and there's a couple more even nicer days to follow. Just a tad too chilly with a breeze today to go fishing. However I did help a friend harvest some grapes and also sat out on the porch with Bruce and Joe, something I haven't done for a while because of the cold weather.

I hope to squeeze in some fishing the next couple days although tomorrow I have to do some computer work for a friend in the afternoon.

The Siberian tomato plant I brought indoors isn't doing too well. I probably should have brought it in sooner, I guess. -30-

Sunday, October 18, 2009 9:01 PM - Working a quick QSO with N9LAH in the IL QP extended the streak to its 5555th day. I like that number.

I got some feedback on the zero beat entries. First from Chuck W8LQ who reads the diary every day. He says, "The advice you gave to your N#A operators about using the RIT was exactly right. My old Corsair front panel has the paint scratched off from my left index fingernail working the RIT Knob. My Omni VI+ RIT knob sticks out from the panel and doesn't suffer from that problem.
I take umbrage at your shot at us old geezers, though. Rather than lack of zero beat being a sign of advanced senility, stupidity or tone deafness consider the fact that rigs from the analog days did not transmit on the display frequency, but were purposely offset in the alignment process for a CW frequency about 700 cps (alright...Hz!) +/- the display. The newer (not necessarily better) synthesized or digital rigs transmit on the display frequency and depend on the I.F.passband being +/- the proper amount to receive signals.
Just for fun I set up my Corsair (good old L-C oscillator that I had aligned for 700 cycles CW key down offset, per the instruction book) and my Omni (synthesized but not digital main oscillator) so I can transmit or receive on either one on the bench, receiving or transmitting on the other as appropriate.
I set both displays at 7000.00 and observed:
Omni as Tx, had to RIT the Corsair + 700 cps to get thru a 250 Hz filter Corsair as TX, HAD TO RIT the Omni -700 cps for proper tone thru the 250 Hz filter.
Leaving both displays at 7000.0, no RIT, 250 Hz filters:
Corsair xmit....Omni received signal out of the pass band; Omni xmit.....Corsair had a zero beat signal.
So maybe it's not us old crabby guys, it might be (in some cases) old but still sweet equipment. Except for the L-C oscillator drift my Corsair is just as good as my Omni, and has a a heck of a lot better received audio than the Omni. The Omni might be marginally better on our favorite mode...CW. I do work SSB twice a week for schedules on 40 fone with my old pals back in Niagara Falls, as well as my son, (would you believe W2WOE?!!) in Delaware. (He's working on his Morse code. I gave him my old J-38 key and built him a code practice oscillator!)"

As always, Chuck comes up with some very good points. Before I address that though, I should say Chuck and I have been ham friends since way back in the 1960's. Chuck's reference to his son having the W2WOE call struck me as very believable. You see, that used to be Chuck's call way back when. It's nice his son could get it now. That's one of only a very few positive features of the vanity call sign program. Otherwise... well that's another story.

Yes, I suppose old rigs also contribute to the lack of zero beating today, although when you used a separate transmitter and receiver, it was easy to truly zero beat someone to within a few Hz. All you did then was feed a low level signal from the xmtr into the rcvr with the BFO turned off, and tuned the xmtr till the beat note got lower and lower, then disappeared (or went to zero Hz leading to the term zero beat).

Then when transceivers came along, there were many different ways of managing the transmit and receive frequencies within the unit until the system of matching the receive offset frequency to the sidetone monitor arrived. So when you tuned in a signal to produce the exact same pitch as the sidetone, you were perfectly zero beat. Best of all, in many units, you can adjust the sidetone to a pleasing tone for you to listen to, and the rcve offset will match whatever tone you set it to.

That is still hard to do for folks who are tone deaf whereas at the other extreme, those with perfect pitch can match the frequencies to a few Hz or better by ear. There is a neat unit that can do the matching for you described in my CW section on the Zero Beat Ckt page. The designer of that circuit is now a SK, but my friend Elwood WB0OEW has built the unit and uses it regularly to precisely zero beat the stations he works. His unit is pictured on the page also. I've never built nor used the unit myself, so if you have any questions about it, perhaps Elwood can answer anything you may ask me.

Going back to Chuck's info now. I told him I think I'll keep track (after things wind down from one of my most hectic weeks ever) of the stations I work, noting their rig and how far off freq they are. Then I'll compile a list, without mentioning names or calls, of the various rigs and how far off frequency they are. So look for that a few months down the road when I build up a large enough database to perhaps show if it is old rigs at fault or operators. HI. -30-

Saturday, October 17, 2009 7:48 PM - Tune in tomorrow for zero beat info. Th-th-th-that's all folks.

This has been probably one of the most hectic weeks of my life with our NAQCC anniversary celebration, our sprint, etc. on top of a lot of other things I won't go into here.

Hopefully by tomorrow evening things will start to ease off a bit and I will have a quiet week to recover. -30-

Friday, October 16, 2009 11:03 AM - I've had complaints from a couple of our N#A stations about folks not knowing how to zero beat. Those are valid complaints. Let me elaborate by copying an email I sent to one of the N#A ops.

"The most used button/knob on both my 570 and 480 is the RIT control. I would say that less than half my QSO's are with stations who zero beat my CQ's. I routinely work folks up to as much as 750 Hz or more off frequency. Without that valuable RIT knob, I would not have nearly as many QSO's as I do. After every CQ I have to spin that RIT knob up and down 500 Hz or so to search for answers, and even then I don't catch some who are further off frequency than that.

And it's not only newcomers to ham radio who don't know how to zero beat. Old-timers have either forgotten how, or are newcomers to the CW mode. I think far too many CW newcomers come from an atmosphere that is geared to channelized operation, that is the VHF/UHF world of repeaters. They just tune their HF rig dials to a certain frequency, whether or not it is near to the station they are trying to work. They think the QRP frequency on 80, for example is 3560.00000 and use that to answer anyone they can hear in their probably too wide passband from 3559 to 3561.

Another factor is that many CW hams are old and perhaps getting tone deaf. They are incapable of matching the audio tone of a received CW signal to that of their sidetone monitor tone which in the vast majority of modern rigs will produce a zero beat signal.

Also many hams along with folks in general are 'dumbed down' to the point where it is virtually impossible to teach them anything more complicated than how to wake up in the morning. And teaching zero beating is somewhat complicated although the actual process of zero beating is easy enough to do, once learned."

I'd be remiss in stating the problem without offering a solution, so in a future entry, perhaps tomorrow, I'll offer some tips on how to zero beat correctly, although as I said it is a bit hard to explain to some folks. -30-

Thursday, October 15, 2009 10:21 PM - In just a couple days now, my streak will reach an interesting number - 5,555 days. I guess there's no significance to that, but I thought I'd mention it since I don't really have a lot more to talk about today.

I operated some N3A this evening on 80M and wound up with 7 QSO's in about an hour and 45 minutes. When things looked like they weren't going to pick up at all, to amuse myself I rotated calling CQ with my straight key, bug, and keyer. I seem to be able to seamlessly go among all three of them and do quite well with each one. It still amazes me that I can use a bug and keyer back to back with no problem whatsoever. I never even dreamed that would be possible. I should have gotten a bug long ago to replace the one I loaned away that was never returned back in the 60's.

It's really feeling more like December here than mid-October. Right now it's just 34 degrees with a chance of some snow in the forecasts for the next 2 or 3 days before a fairly good warm-up next week (hope that part of the outlook is correct!) into the low 60's with a lot of sunshine.

Well I've got some more sprint logs to process and some other emails to take care of so I better get to that now before the pile gets any bigger. -30-

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:15 PM - I've been busy again today with NAQCC business and then this evening had a computer club meeting. Right now my brain is tired, but I will try to at least write something.

I cleaned out my garden a few days ago and left one of the Siberian tomato plants. I may have mentioned that earlier, but anyway I found a big flower pot in the basement today and put the Siberian in it and now have it sitting in the kitchen where it started life as a tiny sprout way back in January. It has a few green tomatoes on it and some pretty good looking foliage. I'm just going to see what happens with it. Perhaps it will just die off in a few days or maybe the tomatoes will ripen. Maybe it will get some more new growth like it did about 6 weeks ago after it looked pretty dismal then. Always interesting to experiment with things to maybe learn something new.

I did a bit of N3A operating today. I haven't had much time for that after our shortened portable operation back on Monday. I made 6 QSO's in a couple sessions. Condiions weren't too much better than for our sprint last evening. -30-

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:52 PM - It's late, I'm tired and hungry, and not very talkative right now. Nothing wrong, it's just been a busy evening operating our NAQCC sprint under rather horrible propagation conditions - then processing the logs as they come in. I see conditions were not that good anywhere, so I'm not too displeased with my 26 QSO's and 14 multipliers even though it's my lowest score in quite a while now. Anyway, I'm off to the kitchen now for some kind of snack. -30-

Monday, October 12, 2009 9:48 PM - A great, fun day here with Mike KC2EGL. He arrived around 9 AM and we worked out the final details about setting up for our portable N3A operation. Before we left for the park, we took Joe out for a walk. I'm not going to say too much about our portable operation. That will be covered in the October 31 NAQCC Newsletter in detail with pictures. I will say that because of very low wind-chill temperatures, we cut down our operation time from 3 to just 1 1/2 hours. It's hard to operate when you're shivering severely.

Before we left for the park we also started on assembling Mike's new telescope, but had to cut that short for Joe's walk and it was getting time to head for the park. When we came back from the park, we stopped at a Vocelli's Pizza Shop for a couple pizzas. We brought them home, and decided to let them cool while we took Joe out again. Then after we finished that and ate the pizza, we planned to finish the scope.

However when we were out walking Joe, a car pulled up beside us and told us to get a real dog. It turned out to be my friend Bob W3BBO from up in Erie who drove down to try to surprise us at the park, but that fell through due to our early departure. Anyway we talked with Bob for a while, then asked him to drive to my home and we'd see him there after we walked Joe home.

We all met at my house, and I gave Bob the dime tour of my shack and antennas. Then he wanted to see where we had operated from, so he drove to the park and set up his rig. Mike and I stayed at my house and I worked Bob using both N3A and my own call.

It was very nice and certainly a huge surprise to run into Bob that way. We've worked each other on the air quite a few times, and he usually comes to the Butler hamfests and we get together there when Tom WY3H and I attend.

Now after we did eat the pizza, we got back to assembling the scope again. It went fairly smoothly although there were a few ticklish spots. We all got a kick out of the assembly manual for the computer drive motors. The manual said it would probably take several attempts to get the mounting screw where it was supposed to go. I quickly said that wasn't right, it would probably take us MANY attempts to get it. I said the manual was underrating our incompetence. Mike and I always are making cracks like that, and I could really expand this entry if I listed all the ones from today. Anyway, it turns out they actually overrated our incompetence as we got the thing mounted after only 2 tries.

We did have a problem getting the drive to run though. Mike had a power cube, and when that was plugged in, the motors refused to budge. Then we tried the included battery pack, but the 4 D cells we used of mine were old and put out nowhere near to 6 volts. So it was off to Wal-Mart to get 4 new cells. They worked fine. We still don't know why the power cube didn't work.

The weather never did co-operate with us today. Not only the cold winds at the park, but overcast skies so we didn't get to try the scope on any celestial objects. That will come another time. The scope looks to be a very nice one, and I'm looking forward to see how its performance compares to mine. I'm sure it will be a little better since it is some 24 years newer, although specs out about the same other than it being a Newtonian and mine a Cassegrain. -30-

Sunday, October 11, 2009 8:29 PM - I'm glad our NAQCC Anniversary week is underway. Maybe I can slow down a little bit now from all the frantic activities to get it set up and running. I hope so anyway - it's been hectic.

I've worked two of our special event stations so far - N0A op by KD0V, and N3A op by WY3H. 7 of the 10 stations are active these first two hours (0000 and 0100Z), and I'm going to try to add a couple more to my log after 0100Z. Right now 5 of the 7 are out of range from here, either too close or too far, but it will be better when some of them switch bands at 0100. I should be able to get N1A, N2A, and N9A. Possibly N5A also. N7A will be rough.

I've been so busy I didn't even make one single QSO in the PA QSO Party this weekend. I just didn't feel like doing any contesting. However I'm gearing up for our NAQCC sprint this Tuesday evening for sure. Those are by far my favorite contests/sprints of all, and the only ones I seem to enter seriously any more - well plus the big DX contests - I still love them and make every effort to put a lot of time into them, even at this low point in the sunspot cycle. I'd love to get KL7 on 80 meters in either the CQWW or ARRL DX tests this season like I did with KH6 in the ARRL DX test this year. That would complete QRP WAS on 80M for me.

Looking forward to spending the day with Mike KC2EGL tomorrow with our three projects I mentioned in an earlier diary entry.

I also will be kind of dogsitting Joe tomorrow as Bruce and Nancy will be away most of the day. Gosh, I guess things aren't slowing down any after all. HI Just changing to different things to keep me busy. Oh well, as I say, better busy than doing nothing - and a lot healthier also. -30-

Saturday, October 10, 2009 9:26 PM - As I'm typing this, I'm watching some Canadian Football in another window on an ESPN Internet site. I've loved the Canadian game for a long time, although it has been hard to follow it here on American television. I just stumbled across it here on the Internet as I was watching some college football. Toronto is playing in Saskatechewan with Saskatchewan leading 7-0 midway through the first period.

Many years ago, I guess it would be in the 70's and 80's I was able to watch a lot of CFL games on ESPN-TV. I soon became an Edmonton Eskimos fan. They were the class of the CFL in that era with Warren Moon at QB, and players like Jim Germany, K Dave Cutler, WR Brian Kelly, and many other great players whose names escape my memory right now. Then later on they had other players like KR Henry "Gizmo" Williams. What a delight to watch him run back a kickoff, often times for a touchdown. Many call him the greatest kick returner EVER.

I guess I'm getting old as other names should come to mind. I'll have to cheat and look them up on the Internet. There is one QB in particular I'm trying to remember - oh, Matt Dunigan who came along after Warren Moon came back to the USA NFL ranks. And the coach in the Moon era was Hugh Campbell who also went to the NFL ranks. That's about the extent I can come up with from memory. Now I'm going to look on the Internet. I want to mention a couple other players whom I admired but the names escape me now.

Damon Allen was another of the many great QB's to play for the Eskimos. KR-R Larry Highbaugh was almost as exciting as Gizmo Williams on kick returns. There were others as well, but I'll stop here and give you some reasons why I love the CFL game.

The larger field, 12 players on a side, 1 yard neutral zone, several backfield players in motion not only laterally, but forward as well, the kick return rules mandating a runback, the 1 point rouge, and several other minor differences make for an extremely wide open game, quit often very high scoring. I don't get too excited by a 3-0 or 7-6 NFL game. Give me a 42-35 CFL game instead. Although to be fair, the NFL game has opened up more now also. Well, back to watching the game now. -30-

Friday, October 09, 2009 9:11 PM - The latest updated weather forecast (outlook) for Monday is for partly sunny and 58. That's a change from showers, so maybe Mike KC2EGL and I will have nice weather for our parkpedition N3A operation on Monday afternoon.

Looking at the latest STEREO images on my propagation page indicates that one of the two cycle 24 sunspots that appeared a couple weeks ago has survived a full rotation and is about to re-appear on the visible side of the Sun if it lasts a few more days. So perhaps we'll jack the SF up into the 70's again.

Other than that, not much more radio news. We were to have a rainy day all day today, but as has happened so many times the past couple of years now, we got split with some heavy rain going north and some south leaving us with about a third of an inch of rain and enough gaps in the rain to get in some fishing. I boosted my total to 121 for the year today with 3 fish caught. It was nice sitting by the river which was almost perfectly smooth with no wind blowing. When that happens, you can see the tiniest bite on your bait. I like that. No need to figure out if it was a fish, a wave or wind that moved the tip of your pole. However after many years of fishing I've learned to filter out a bite from those other disturbances just like filtering a CW signal out of the QRN. The brain makes a very effective filter in both cases. -30-

Thursday, October 08, 2009 7:43 PM - Coincidentally after my troubles with Comodo Anti-Virus yesterday, today I learned that Microsoft has just released its own FREE anti-virus, anti-spyware program. So I immediately uninstalled the Anti-Virus portion of Comodo (kept their firewall), and installed Microsoft Security Essentials. As with every Microsoft product I've ever installed, this installation went as smooth as glass. I then updated it with the latest virus definitions - another smooth process. Next it ran a quick scan (about 20 minutes) of my system and found it to be clean as a whistle. It has a real time scanner that constantly looks for viruses and spyware and blocks them if it is positive from its database that it is indeed a virus or spyware for sure. If it is not sure, it will ask me what to do about it.

From the talk around the net, this is really a superb product and the PAID security suites are scurrying to keep up with it. It was even recommended by one pretty severe Microsoft basher.

Sound interesting? Check it out here.

Only a couple days now till our NAQCC 5th Anniversary celebration gets underway. Mike KC2EGL and I will be operating N3A portable on Monday afternoon. See the NAQCC web site - Main section - N#A Operation page for a full schedule of all N#A special event stations from the 12th through the 18th and join in the fun. Monday I also will be turning over handling of all our NAQCC prizes and giveaways to Mike. And for a third Monday project, we'll be assembling, setting up, and hopefully trying out his new telescope he bought that arrived Tuesday. I say hopefully as the outlook for Monday is for showers in the evening. But outlooks are not always right. In fact once you get beyond 36-48 hours, weather forecasting is still far from an exact science.

Almost time now for me to go get my QSO of the day. The bands have been kind of dead here in the 0000Z hour the past several days and it's taken several minutes of calling CQ to get my QSO, but I still get it every evening either by someone finally answering my CQ or going searching to answer someone else's CQ. There have been only a miniscule number of days I've had to put it off to the next morning or afternoon because of conditions. -30-

Wednesday, October 07, 2009 8:27 PM - A very windy day in Kittanning today. I just missed getting creamed by a falling limb in the park today. As I was walking, I heard a noise behind me and saw a limb from our 200+ years old Cottonwood tree had fallen about 50-75 feet behind me on the path.

It was too windy to go fishing, but I did wind up walking almost 13 miles in 4 or 5 different walks today.

The day started out on a bad note. When I turned on my computer, it was running v--e--r--y s--l--o--w. I couldn't even get any programs to start, but I finally did call up Task Manager and found cmdagent.exe was hogging 99 percent of the cpu time constantly. I figured correctly that was part of my Comodo Internet Security Suite. I rebooted a couple of times and the same thing happened. So finally I booted into Safe Mode, and was able to open some programs that way. I checked AutoRuns, a program that lists virtually every program that starts up when Windows starts and disabled all the Comodo items. Then I rebooted into normal mode and everything ran correctly. I thought maybe cmdagent.exe was corrupted, so I uninstalled and reinstalled Comodo. That seemed to help the problem, although updating the anti-virus database for Comodo took quite a while. cmdagent.exe is the program that does the updating, so apparently there was something hanging up in the updating. Anyway, all is fine again now.

Actually my computer runs so smoothly with Windows XP SP3, I kind of enjoy in a strange way when something like that does go wrong and I get to do some troubleshooting. I think that was the first time in about 3 years I've had any kind of trouble. It's hard to understand folks who seem to have regular problems with their computers. I guess they just don't believe in preventative maintenance and maybe they don't check the air in their tires regularly or change oil regularly in their cars either. HI.

Oh, I heard from our N6A operator today and all 10 special event calls are set now for the sprint next Tuesday evening local time, and for all the operations the rest of anniversary week. See the N#A Operation page in the main section of the NAQCC web site to see when you can work one or all 10 of our SE calls and earn QSL's and/or a certificate.

Oh (again), I see on the STEREO image of the Sun on my propagation page that one of those cycle 24 sunspot areas looks like it is going to survive the trip around the sun and re-emerge on the visible surface of the Sun in a couple days, so maybe we'll have another period of the SF being in the 70's again. -30-

Tuesday, October 06, 2009 9:56 PM - I just signed up our first Cuban member to our NAQCC - Carlos CO8CML. That's our 80th country in the club now.

My streak QSO this evening was with Paul N4UEB. Paul is a long time diary reader and probably knows more about me from the diary than I remember or know myself. HI. It's always hard to believe how many people find what I write here in the diary so interesting, yet I'm sure they do from all the pertinent comments I get. It's not just saying they read the diary, but mentioning some little almost obscure thing that I talked about many entries ago.

For instance, Dennis WB8WTU emailed today and mentioned, "I was shocked and outraged to read in your diary that you gave up on wire antennas and QRP. You got me there for a minute...... very funny." referring to my April Fool joke in the diary. He also included some info about the 1340 that I will look into when I have the time. I've kind of put the 1340 on the back burner until after our NAQCC 5th anniversary celebration next week.

That is occupying a lot of my time. The latest thing is looking for a N6A operator for the sprint. The ham who signed up to operate N6A seems to have disappeared. I get no answer to my emails to him for whatever reason. Should you happen to be in CA and a NAQCC member reading this, email me if you'd be interested in operating N6A, especially in the sprint next Tuesday evening. I'd hate to have only 9 of our 10 special event calls represented in the sprint. -30-

Monday, October 05, 2009 10:46 PM - Those two cycle 24 sunspots that sent the SF into the 70's have now rotated off the visible surface of the sun. The SF is at 70 today and probably will be back in the 60's again starting tomorrow. However if those sunspots survive another rotation, we could get back into the 70's again in several days from now. You can watch their progress via the STEREO satellite pictures on my Propagation page. Those pictures show quite a bit, but not all, of the surface of the Sun hidden from view from Earth. There is about a 60 degree segment of the surface that the satellites don't yet cover. Those two sunspots are about to move into that area so figure roughly they will be out of view around 4 days since the sun rotates in about 28 days and 60 degrees is 1/6 of a rotation or 28/6 = 4 2/3 days if my late night tired brain math is correct. Then about 4 more days before they swing into view from Earth again if they survive. Just check my propagation page each day to follow their progress. If I remember correctly, the STEREO images are updated every 15 minutes or so. -30-

Sunday, October 04, 2009 10:39 PM - I had two nice rag chew QSO's this evening. Both with hams I've never worked before. That led me to a topic for tonight's entry.

Before I get to that however, I'd like to acknowledge a bit of feedback I received today. Larry W2LJ emailed and said in regards to my story about mirror grinding, "Did the same thing when I was in Junior High. Back in those days, the Edmund Scientific catalog was a permanent companion!"

Yep, that's where I got my mirror grinding kit along with several other scientific items from time to time.

With over 71,000 QSO's and with CW supposedly dying out, you'd think virtually every QSO I make nowadays would be with someone I worked before. Well, a lot of them are, of course. However quite a few every month turn out to be hams I haven't worked before. I believe that means that a lot of hams are either learning about the joy of CW or rediscovering that joy from their past. That's encouraging to me, as we need new blood in the CW ranks. It's just a shame that very few of these new hams I work are in their teens or even 20's. In fact very few are in their 30's and only a few in their 40's. If the profile trended toward younger hams, that would be even much more encouraging for the future of CW.

At any rate, here are the number of hams I worked for the first time in each of the past few months.

September    9
August      33
July        20
June        25
May         35
April       12

Long-term, I probably average 20 or so 'first-timers' each month. -30-

Saturday, October 03, 2009 9:22 PM - I like QSO's when the other person has something interesting to say beyond weather, rig, and the usual stuff. Sometimes though I just have time for such a quick QSO or an even quicker contest QSO to keep my streak going. I was going to do that with a CA QP contact this evening, but then I decided to try some CQ's on 80M and I worked Lynn NG9D. He was looking at my web site while we talked and mentioned he had a video on YouTube about grinding a mirror for a telescope after seeing I was interested in astronomy.

Well, that led me to a topic for this diary entry. Back in 7th grade at age 13 I built my own homebrew telescope which included grinding the mirror. That was a formidable time-consuming task. Nowadays mirror grinders either buy or jury-rig together some sort of grinding machine, but back then it was strictly manual labor for me.

I'll try to describe the procedure similarly to how I did it as a demonstration for a school assembly program way back then. However I had video aids then, namely the actual mirror grinding set-up. Here I have to do it with just words, and you'll have to use your imagination if you've never delved into mirror grinding.

You get two glass blanks, one the actual mirror and one the grinding tool. The tool is placed on top of a stand that you can walk around and securely fastened to prevent any movement. Different grades of grinding material is used, beginning with very coarse and ending with very fine. The material is put on the tool and water is added. Now you must use your imagination seriously. The mirror is slid back and forth across the tool while you walk around the stand and also rotate the mirror in your hands. This goes on for what seems like forever till you get a surface on the mirror that shows the entire area has been ground.

The object being to get a concave surface on the mirror that has the desired focal length. You check that roughly by wetting the surface and checking out the reflection of a candle. At a certain distance from the mirror, the reflection will change from a right side up image to an inverted one. At the changeover point, the reflection will simply appear as an image that fills the entire mirror surface with light. A measurement at that point from the candle to the mirror gives the focal length. If it is too long, which is what is desired actually, you continue on with the coarse grade of grinding material till you get just slightly longer than you want.

Then you continue on, but with the next finer grade of material. As you go, you keep on with the measurements and as you get closer and closer to the desired focal length, you keep using finer and finer material.

Finally when you reach the desired focal length, you invert the tool and mirror and grind a little more. This changes the surface from a spherical surface to that of a parabola.

With the tool back on the stand, a pitch lap is added and grooved by placing a rubber template on the pitch and pressing down on it with the mirror.

Now rouge is substituted for the grinding material and the mirror is polished to it's final surface ready to be silvered or aluminized (preferred). That was done by an outside source.

Keep in mind here that the above was done about 51 years ago now and I'm telling it strictly from memory, so don't go and use it as a set of instructions for mirror grinding, as I can only say it is a somewhat accurate description of the procedure.

Mounting the mirror in the scope tube along with the diagonal mirror, eyepiece holder and finder scope was a piece of cake compared to the grinding.

The tripod for the scope was built and welded by a friend of my dad's somewhere on his mail route.

Although I won prizes for it at our local school science fair and at the Buhl Planetarium, I'll be honest and say it never did work all that well and I never used it much at all. However it was quite a learning experience building it, and that was the real bottom line.

Tomorrow maybe I'll include some pictures of it and my awards. -30-

Friday, October 02, 2009 9:07 AM - It's a rather gloomy, soon to be rainy day in Kittanning. I guess I won't be outside much today unless the rain stops before dark and I take my poles to the river.

Maybe I'll see what the bands are like during the day. It might be interesting to see if the 13 straight days of the SF being above 70 have done anything to the higher bands. I haven't noticed much change in the evenings which of late is about the only time of day I get on the bands.

Thanks to Paul N0NBD for a couple suggestions about my Ten Tec 1340. I probably won't be working on it much for the next couple weeks because of all the work involved in our NAQCC 5th anniversary celebration. I did determine that the VFO sounds horrible on my 480 although it looks good on the scope, so there is definitely something wrong there.

I've just been looking at my web site stats which is something I do daily. I'm seeing a pickup in visitors again after the forced change of URL by Windstream back in March of this year. You can see that clearly in this graph which shows 7 day running average visits (blue), 30 day running average visits (red), and long term average since the site got started (green).

pix_diary_20091002_01 (104K)

Notice the comeback which started in July after languishing for about 4 months. Of course the sudden drop-off at the end is because no data have been entered for those days yet. I like to see the numbers higher not for any personal satisfaction, but because it means more folks are interested in CW and QRP and want to know more about it. That's what my site is all about. It's very rewarding to hear from a visitor that my site inspired them to get back to CW and/or give QRP a try.

You will also notice if you look carefully there is a drop in visitors almost every year that starts around March and continues until September or so. Probably because it is spring and summer with the attendant good weather in the Northern hemisphere which is where the majority of my visitors live. That contributed to the URL change to enhance the big dropoff this year.

Finally I figure in about 60-65 days, the number of visits overall will reach the half-million mark. Perhaps we'll have a little contest to guess just what day that mark will be reached. -30-

Thursday, October 01, 2009 7:19 PM - I did my usual first of month financial stuff first thing this morning. Had my brunch. Helped Ange pick some figs and clean up chestnut burrs. Went fishing - caught a Sandpike and a Sucker to bring the total to 116 this year. Had supper. Did some shopping. Did a little yard work. Went over and played with Joe for a while. Back over home for some routing housework. Just finished putting my September weather data into the computer and printing out the results.

September continued the great number of below normal temperature months of late. It averaged 0.4 degrees below normal with the daily high averaging 1.7 degrees below normal. The daily low averaged 0.8 degrees above normal. A couple of monthly records were tied or broken. The range of temperature between the monthly maximum and minimum was just 40 degrees, the narrowest range since my record keeping started in 1959. Normally the range is 51 degrees with the highest being 61 degrees 3 times (1964,1983,1991). The monthly low of 44 tied the highest monthly low set in 1980 and 2008.

The only daily records of the 330 I keep track of in a 30 day month were 3 least daily temperature range records. 6 on the 7th and 26th, and 4 on the 29th. -30-

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:04 PM - The last day / first day of a month are always busy ones here, and today is no exception. I've still got miles to go before I rest as the saying goes, so once again I'm not going to have much to say in the diary.

It was a breezy cool day with a high of just 55 degrees, almost but not quite, cold enough to keep me from fishing. I'm glad I went as I added 3 more to my yearly total with 2 little sandpike and a 13 inch sucker. That's 114 for the year so far in about 75 trips. Last year I had fewer fish than trips, so my average catch per trip is going to be better this year for sure.

I also took out a few plants from my garden that stopped producing. I'm still hoping for about 2-3 more weeks of growing season here although I don't think much will happen in that time except for my pole beans which have been producing like crazy ever since they started. I noticed a couple new flowers on my Siberian tomato plants today, but that doesn't mean anything as there is not enough time left for them to develop. Hey, I just thought as I was typing, maybe I could bring them indoors and let them finish their life as they started. Maybe I could coax an extra tomato or two from them. The one plant does have several fair sized green tomatoes on it.

I also picked (gathered up) some more chestnuts and hickory nuts today. Both of the nut trees really produced a lot of nuts this year. I guess the unusual weather was good for them if not for most plants.

I didn't have much time for radio today. Of course I got my daily QSO as always, but nothing beyond that. I also didn't work on the 1340 at all today, and probably won't for a few days now. -30-

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 11:30 PM - 11 straight days of the SF being at 70 or above now. The two sunspots responsible are heading off the visible face of the Sun soon now, and from looking at the STEREO pictures of the back side of the Sun on my propagation page, it doesn't look like any will be taking their place soon.

Since it's late, that's all I have to say for today. I had some things I wanted to talk about, but they will have to wait till tomorrow if I remember. HI -30-

Monday, September 28, 2009 9:02 PM - A good day today. We had some rain this morning, about a quarter of an inch. After it stopped, I headed to the river and unlike the last couple times after a rain when I got hardly any bites at all, today's session started off with a bang. Just a few minutes after I got my poles set up, and was looking down arranging things in my little tackle box, I heard a noise and looked up and my pole was pulled against the other pole and bent down toward the river. I dropped what I was doing and grabbed it. I was sure from the look of it even before I picked it up, it had to be a carp. It was my new (this year) spinning reel and rod. Mr. carp was determined to head to the other side of the river and see how much of my line he could take with him. I didn't think I would ever get him turned as I didn't want to force the issue and break the light line. So I let him have his way with minimum tension on the line. While he was going out, I reeled in my other line as I didn't feel like battling two carp at once like I did several weeks ago. Finally he slowed down his forward progress and turned and headed down river. I followed him down about 100-150 feet or so. He had come closer into shore as he went down and I saw him. Before I got a good look, I guessed he was probably a 26 inch, which as you know from me saying it often, seem to be the best fighters among the carp population. But when I got that better look, I guessed 28 inches. He wasn't quite tired out yet, and took my line back out a ways, but his efforts to escape were growing weaker and weaker, and I got him closer and closer to shore, and after a couple attempts to break free right at the shore, I reached down and pulled him on shore to measure him, take the hook out and set him free. He turned out to be an inch over my guess at 29 inches, and was a very good looking carp. Many of them have missing scales or other marks on them, but not this one. My little long-shank #10 hook was really imbedded in his lips, and I had to twist it to get it out. Then I pushed him gently back in the water and he swam off.

I thought it was going to be a carp fest, but not so. I did catch 4 more fish, but no more carp. I added to my total for the year two suckers at 13 and 15 inches, an 8 inch bass (one of the few I've caught this year), and a 19 inch carpsucker. I also had another carpsucker on, but I stupidly tried to force him away from my other line to keep from getting all tangled up, and I applied too much force and the line broke giving him a sinker and hook to carry around with him for a while. So now I'm at 111 for the year, still below average, and only (at this point) my 12th best year since 1992. More rain coming tomorrow morning, so maybe I'll try again to up my total some more.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in the diary or not, and I don't see it in a quick glance back through the past few days, but Don WA3ZBJ gave me a Ten Tec 1340 back on the 23rd. He couldn't get it to work, and gave up on it saying it was mine to fix and use if I could. I've gradually been working on it a few minutes here and there since then, and still not having any luck. I'd love to have a voltage check chart for it, but I don't. I'd also like to know what the level of the oscillator injection voltage is. Don says the trouble was a very unstable frequency, and now it seems to have stopped working all together. I can see the VFO signal on my scope, and it seems steady enough, but rather low in level and I haven't found it by listening on my 480 yet. I'm going to couple it more tightly to the 480 and see if that helps. If it is stable and near in frequency where it should be, I'm guessing the next step is to check out the 11 MHz oscillator it mixes with to produce a 7 MHz output.

If any one has any ideas, let me know. I'm sure some of those reading this own or have owned a 1340.

Another good thing today was getting a buro mailing with 15 cards, and separately getting my card from VK6DXI whom I worked via long path on 40M while the sun was still up here. I talked about that QSO in the diary back around the day of the QSO - July 26th. In the buro mailing were some nice prefixes - VE2008VQ, LZ08KM, SN3X, AM8IL, OF8X, 5J0A, and HQ9H. I think all may be new except perhaps the SN3 and OF8. I'm going to log all 16 cards after I finish typing this and posting it.

I also had a nice visit with Joe today. As I've said often, it's alway nice just to hang out with him. He is truly a precious little dog. We went for a little walk, then sat on my porch for a while before I took him over home. -30-

Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:53 AM - I've just added a new feature to my Propagation section. Near the bottom of the page are pictures from the STEREO spacecrafts that observe the side of the Sun not visible from Earth. I won't explain more here because you can click on the link right above the pictures for much more info. Anyway now with a glance at my propagation page you can see when sunspots develop on the back side of the Sun and figure when they will be rotating into view. As you may know, we've had an extended period of the SF being 70 or above now due to two new cycle 24 sunspots, so if this does mark the beginning of activity from cycle 24, you can keep up to date with what is and will be happening via my propagation page. Many propagation pages go into much greater detail around the Internet, but I think mine provides at a quick glance exactly what you want to know. Then if you want to go deeper into the subject, you can check out my propagation links. There's very little about propagation that can't be gleaned by visiting those sites. -30-

Saturday, September 26, 2009 10:14 PM - I had a different kind of QSO last evening I was going to mention in yesterday's entry, but I got carried away with my gun story instead.

After I got my daily QSO on 80M, I decided to see what was on 30M. I didn't hear much, so I tried a few CQ's and got answered by NP4KT/M in Puerto Rico. Although I'm not sure, I think that may have been the only mobile DX station I've ever worked. I've worked lots of maritime mobiles over the years, but not regular mobiles. We had about a 5 minute QSO.

Today was a rainy day in Kittanning with an almost all-day rain. I was hoping it would stop so I could go fishing, but it never did till darkness fell. So I just did some things around the house to pass the time, and I did go for a couple walks in the rain and also walked around in the house.

I also did some listening on the ham bands. Around 2100 or so, I heard EU stations all over 30M trying to work some DX which I later found out was FT5GA on Glorioso Islands. There's a ham who lives 3-4 miles or so from here who needs Glorioso to have them all worked. I hope he manages to work them.

I have worked the Comoros in that general area of the world, and also Diego Garcia not too far from there, but I doubt I'll have much of a chance at FT5GA with the huge pileups unless I luck out to be at the right spot at the right time with the right propagation conditions. But I still need well over 100 entities to get them all so it's no big deal for me as it probably is for the aforementioned ham Chet N3VA. -30-

Friday, September 25, 2009 10:12 PM - I did something today I've never done before as far as I can recall. I've got a couple of friends who are hunters and gun collectors. They were going out today to 'shoot in' a couple of guns which is what I think they call checking the aim of a gun to see if the sights are aligned properly. Although I love the outdoors and as you know, love fishing, I never did get interested in hunting. My dad loved to fish, but didn't hunt, and to my knowledge, none of my close relatives did either. Anyway they asked me to come along since I was kind of the intermediary friend meaning I knew both of them very well but they were only slightly acquainted with each other.

I was going to turn down their request mainly because I didn't have any hearing protectors, but the one friend gave me a pair of the 'in the ear' kind, so I decided to go.

On the way out there, they talked about many different kinds of guns and other shooting related matters I was unfamiliar with. Oh, I guess everyone has some basic knowledge of guns, and I did have that. I knew what a .357 Magnum and .22 rifles were along with some other basics. But that was about it.

When we got to the shooting range, they fired off the weapons, and asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I was reluctant at first, but I think I really did want to do it from the beginning. Anyway I eventually gave in, and took a brief turn.

The gun I used was one I had heard of, but didn't know much about. Just before writing this entry I looked up the history of the gun in the Internet Wikipedia. I had no idea what the designation of the gun stood for, but now I know. It was an AK-47 which I have now learned was developed in Russia by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1944-46 and in 1947 a fixed stock version of the rifle was introduced into service by units of the Red Army. The 47 stands for 1947 and the AK is for Avtomat Kalashnikova (Kalashnikov Automatic) rifle.

Although I only took one shot, and never did get to find out if actually hit anywhere on the target or not, I enjoyed the experience and have some insight now into the fascination folks have with firearms. I've always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment even though this was my first experience using a gun. -30-

Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:47 PM - Some feedback from Larry W2LJ - "John, Your entry today reminds me of an episode of "Adam-12" that left a lasting impression on me when I was young. I don't remember the details exactly, but either Reed or Malloy got into an accident in Griffith Park and went off the road. The microphone on the squad car radio was broken; and the injured officer made due by sending out an SOS by baring ends of the microphone wire and touching them together. It proved good enough for him to be located. And it must have worked because all of Jack Webb's TV shows were prefaced with. "The events you are about to see are true .....", either by voice or print. 73 de Larry W2LJ

Larry also sent this link where you can watch the episode in its entirety. -30-

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:28 AM - A couple years ago, I believe in May or June of 2007, Stan K4UK sent me a picture of a homebrew straight key that he was using. I immediately thought that using a homebrew SK would be a great topic for our special award certificate competition we have within each of our NAQCC sprints. We scheduled it for November 2007, and have just concluded the third annual 'homebrew SK' sprint, this year held in September.

That preamble leads me to my point. I'm very impressed by the ingenuity of our NAQCC members. It's amazing what they come up with as a straight key. If you take a look at the September sprint results & soapbox on the NAQCC web site, you'll see what I mean. A requirement for the certificate was sending in a picture of their homebrew key and all are pictured there.

It also demonstrates the versatility of CW. Now you tell me how many folks could build a microphone for voice communications or a computer for digital work or a camera for SSTV out of 'junk' lying around the house. Not many, if any, I venture to say. If a microphone should stop functioning at a critical point in an emergency, it would be easy to throw together a key of some kind to continue exchanging vital info. Assuming that the ham on the other end knew CW.

I love Tom WY3H's true story. Although it wasn't in an emergency situation, his straight key somehow broke or fell apart during a QSO. No problem. He just continued the QSO by touching the two wires together going to the currently useless key. You can't get a simpler 'key' than that. That was the inspiration for his homebrew key you'll see if you look at the sprint results as I suggested.

CW FOREVER! - You never know when it might save a life and it is so simple to use. -30-

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 10:12 PM - 75!! When is the last time the SF was that high? I could find out, but I don't have time. I put in a long day getting the latest NAQCC Newsletter ready for posting Friday evening, archiving past NAQCC Newsletters in .pdf format, and also spent 3 hours working on a friend's computer this evening.

It's a shame how so many people let their computers susceptible to all kinds of viruses, spyware, malware, etc. Then never do anything about it until one day it just basically stops working. By then in many cases it is too late for the ordinary person, even though they are fairly knowledgeable about computers as I am, to do anything about it. That was the case this evening. I was able to cure the most obvious of the problems, but some very deep seated ones were beyond my ability, and need the service of a well equipped repair shop run by an extremely knowledgeable computer guru.

If only people would learn a bit about computing before they invest in a computer. I mean learn about the threats out there, and take steps to immunize themselves against those threats. Personally I (knock on wood) have had only a couple of problems with computers in the 30 years I've been playing with them, and I was able to solve those problems because they were isolated and not interwoven with several other problems. That's when things really get sticky.

I use Comodo's combo firewall and anti-virus program, Windows Defender, and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware as my front line of defense. I keep them constantly updated and run full scans with each once a week in addition to their real-time protection. I use Iolo's System Mechanic which is kind of like a Swiss Army Knife for computers. I use it more or less as a preventative maintenance tool. I run Microsoft's Baseline Security Analyzer weekly as another check to see if all is OK with my computer. I use Ccleaner nightly to clean unnecessary files out of my computer. I defragment once a week with JKdefragger. I run Registry Clean Pro once a week. Also Reg Seeker, both which help to keep my registry clean along with System Mechanic. With that arsenal, I feel pretty safe because I also practice safe computing being careful about what I look at on the Internet and what email I allow into my computer. MailWasher lets me delete any suspicious email right off the Windstream server without downloading it to my computer. Even with all of that listed, I know I've left out a few other things I do to keep my computer in tip top shape. I wish everyone did. -30-

Monday, September 21, 2009 10:53 PM - Yet another day with the SF above 70 at 72. Maybe something is up.

Since I started using the bug, I find myself getting on the bands a bit more often. I made 3 QSO's in the 2000-2100Z hours today and got in some good practice sending with the bug.

We added a miniscule amount of .02 inches of rain to our monthly total today, and now stand at .19 inches for the month. It looked like we would be getting more than that, but as has happened so often the past couple years, the rain just missed us. From the looks of the radar, it seems that pattern will continue overnight also. After being green all of our cool wet summer, the grass is starting to turn a little brown now even with the cooler temps and less sunlight. Usually it's the other way around with the grass browning in the summer and returning to green in September.

I was pleased to hear from Mike KC2EGL that he used my contesting tips a few entries ago here in the diary to increase his score in a recent sprint held by another club. It's nice to know these ramblings do some good sometimes. -30-

Sunday, September 20, 2009 9:23 PM - Two days in a row with the SF above 70. However back on July 4-8 (celebrating Independence Day?) the SF was at or above 70 also, then the Sun pushed the snooze button again, and until yesterday, the SF remained in the 60's.

Again not really much happened today to talk about, and I'm not going to reel off another list of everyday occurrences here. About the only thing worthy of comment was that I found 30M to be quite good just before 0030Z this evening. I heard both ends of a NP3/K2 QSO and there were several other strong sigs across the band. I didn't hang around long though because I wanted to check into our NAQCC QRS Net at 0030Z on 7122.5 kHz. In case you don't know about the net and are new to CW or willing to help out those who are new, you can find more info on the net on the NAQCC web site in the Elmer Project section. -30-

Saturday, September 19, 2009 8:51 PM - Would you believe the SF went above 70 today? No? Well, it did. The SF reading today was 71!!! Probably just a fluke and nothing to get really excited about, but....

This was a quiet Saturday here. After some usual early morning computer work, I helped Ange pick some figs. Then had breakfast (brunch?) and went for a walk. When I got home I saw Joe was home alone so I hung out with him for about an hour including a nice long walk. Next up it was fishing which didn't turn out so well - I got shut out. I did have something on, but he didn't make it all the way to shore so he (she?) doesn't count. I never got to see what it was, but it felt something like a turtle. Pulling one of them in resembles pulling in a rock. They offer very little resistance or fight. Just accept their fate and let you drag them in. Or it could have been a carpsucker too. Once in a while they act that way also. It was on peanut butter bread. That usually yields a carp, sucker, carpsucker, and a turtle from time to time. I have caught other fish on it, but only occasionally.

Next up was supper, then I fooled around with my bug again. I got on 30M and my CQ was answered by NAQCC club member Mike K0MDS whom I also worked in our sprint Wednesday evening. However QSB put a quick end to that QSO. There was a lot of strong EU sigs on 30M, but I didn't try to work any of them.

That pretty much sums up the day except for an evening snack and getting my daily QSO for the 20th. Now it's 9PM and time to get my weather readings, but before that, here's a note about the weather from Paul N0NBD, "John, your September is dry and here in SE Kansas we have had nearly 8 inches of rain in the first 10 days. Last week the Neosho River, Coal creek and Owl creek were flooded all over the place. The "old" highway south of town to Chanute was closed due to flooding for 2 days. Interesting the different wx patterns. The wx channel said there was an upper lever low that caused all of it. We had rain storms for 4 days that came straight from the EAST and that NEVER happens here de Paul N0NBD" -30-

Friday, September 18, 2009 10:48 PM - Here I sit at the keyboard waiting for something to come to mind to write about. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today to elaborate on. It was just one usual thing after another that steadily ate up the time. The weather was beautiful as it has been most of the month. When I got my nightly temperature and precipitation readings a while ago, I glanced back through the September rainfall amounts and found we have only had 0.17 inches of rain so far. If that keeps up, this will be one of our driest months ever. However it looks like next week will be a very rainy one and we'll probably catch up to the September average or even surpass it then.

I think I'm gradually getting better and better at using the bug, but you'd have to ask the folks I work to get a more definitive answer on that. I strive to send as perfect a code as possible no matter what device I use to send it. I find the bug the hardest of all to be perfect with. Hopefully that's simply because I'm so new at it. You can't even count the brief time I used one way back in the 60's, so it actually is a new device for me. I've already conquered the one thing I was sure would keep me from ever using a bug after all the years using a keyer. That is making the manual dashes vs. the automatic ones with a keyer. At any rate, I'm really continuing to enjoy using it. Except for using my straight keys in the NAQCC sprint, I've used nothing but the bug since I got it about a week ago and plan to continue using it. -30-

Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:05 PM - After our NAQCC sprint last night, I'd like to offer some thoughts on contesting and/or sprinting. I continue to be surprised how well I seem to do in our sprints, and I've boiled down the reasons to a few which I'll list here.

1. Keep the time when you are doing nothing to a bare minimum. You should constantly either be calling CQ or answering someone's CQ. Time tuning around just listening, although necessary, should be kept to a minimum.

2. Keep the CQ's short and the time listening between CQ's short. CQ NA K3WWP followed by 4 seconds of listening, repeated over and over again till you get an answer is about ideal for our NAQCC sprints.

3. If K4BAI (for example) answers you, send K4BAI 569 PA NR 2 K. You really don't even need the NR or K (K4BAI 569 PA 2 will suffice). After you get K4BAI's info, send TU JOHN 73 DE K3WWP and listen a couple seconds for tailenders. If none, continue CQing.

4. Brevity allows for more QSO's. Use a computer logging program - GenLog is excellent - to save time writing things down on paper.

5. Make yourself familiar in contesting by entering as many as possible. Recognition is very important. There will be stations who may try just a little harder to work you if they recognize you, especially if they are your 'friend' from working them so often, and perhaps even rag chewing with them from time to time. As just one example of many, if I hear John K4BAI in a contest, I will try hard to work him to give him a QSO even if I am not that serious about the contest simply because he and I have been friends since the 1960's and I want to help him out.

6. Know the bands and when it is time to change because you've worked everyone or most everyone on a certain band.

7. Work a little harder to contact someone if they are a new multiplier for you. If you have 20 QSO's and 10 multipliers for 200 points, working someone not a new multiplier will add 10 points to your score (21 X 10 = 210) while working a new multiplier will add 31 points (21 X 11 = 231). A station in a new multiplier will always add more points than a new station that is not a new multiplier.

8. In the 4 seconds you are listening for a response to your CQ, use your RIT to tune up and down quickly from your frequency. A lot of stations do not know how to zero beat correctly, and you will miss them if you only listen on your CQ frequency, especially if you use a narrow filter.

9. Conversely learn to zero beat properly, and you'll have the best chance of being heard by the station you are calling.

10. Send as perfect CW as you are capable of. It will be much easier to copy.

11. Build up your copying speed as high as you can. If you can copy 55 WPM, you'll not only be able to copy the faster stations easily, but the slower ones whose sending may be somewhat sloppy.

I just kind of rambled through those ideas in no particular order, but I think they pretty much cover why I can do well in contests, and may serve as food for though on how others can improve their own contesting. -30-

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:59 PM - Actually it is now tomorrow. I've been processing NAQCC sprint logs till after midnight. We had a really good sprint with both 40 and 80 meters being in good shape. I broke out of my 37 QSO's rut with 39, and got 20 multipliers. Lots of fun, but I'm tired now and quitting for the evening (morning). -30-

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 9:23 PM - Yesterday did indeed turn out to be a busy day, mostly with gardening work, it seemed. I picked Hickory nuts in the morning, apples in the afternoon, and figs in the evening. I guess in between I must have done something else, but I can't remember now. HI

Today I was playing with the bug quite a bit. Larry W2LJ who gave me the bug suggested that effectively lengthening the reed would have more effect on the speed than adding weight to the reed. I tried that and it did seem to work, although I think the added length should have been made of something a little heavier than the objects I was fooling with - a popsicle stick and some small alligator clips. When I fastened a small screwdriver to the end of the reed, that heavier extension slowed it down quite a bit. However with the little bulge on the reed that hits the damper it was hard to fasten something right to the end so I went back to my added fishing sinker weight again. That gives me dots at about 18 WPM. I'm getting to the point now though where sending with it is becoming second nature to me. And I can go back to the paddle/keyer with a bit of concentration at first. So I think I may get to the point where I can switch among a keyer, bug, and straight key pretty much at any time.

I went over to Tom WY3H's place today to help him with a computer problem. I got that fixed, then we played with his new toy - a MFJ 484 GrandMaster keyer and paddle he purchased at the Butler hamfest on Sunday.

This evening I had a couple more bug QSO's with Wayne WA9VEE and with WY3H. Then I was just about to go over and check on Joe after finishing this entry, but Bruce just came home, so he will take care of Joe. -30-

Monday, September 14, 2009 8:00 AM - A busy day coming up so I'll get the diary entry posted early today.

One thing I have to do is get a new poll ready for posting tonight. After around 110 of them, it's hard to come up with new topics. I'll have to take a look in my 'To Be Done' email folder and see if there are any suggestions left there. If not, I may repeat one that hasn't been run for a while. I certainly appreciate your poll suggestions. You've come up with some very good ones that never occurred to me.

I'm also going to help a friend pick some apples as well as helping Ange pick some figs. I'd also like to squeeze in some fishing somewhere if possible. I'd like to close in a little more on 100 fish for the year. Still stuck at 94 after not being able to fish the past couple days now.

Some diary feedback from Geoffrey AE4RV about the bug, "Hi, John, I'm so glad that you are using and LIKING a bug. I think they are sort of the best of both worlds between a straight key (or sideswiper) and electronic paddles. Much of the automation and fatigue relief of the paddles but the bug retains the old school "hands on" feeling of doing it the way it was done 100 years ago.
I am also using a Lightning Bug, one from 1944. I thought it was a military J-36 when I bought it but I now know that it isn't and was probably in commercial service at first. I've tamed it down to about 18 wpm with a Vibroplex Varispeed and enjoy it very much. I've since bought a Vibroplex 100th anniversary Original because I wanted to see what a new one is like and that is the most reasonably priced one they sell. It feels great and I love sending with it but it is too fast and you can't get a Varispeed for that model anymore, they currently only sell flat arm Varispeeds. I might wrap some solder around it or something.
Since using the bug I've developed an ear for them and it seems like they are actually fairly popular and I do not think that most bug ops are very bad at all. It's just that the bad ones are much more noticeable....I'm really enjoying my switch to the bug and I hope that you do, too. Can't wait for pictures and also, new station pictures!"

I found another way to slow down a bug, or actually another weight to use. My bug has a flat reed so sawing a groove in a fishing sinker so it slips on the reed works nicely. Bigger split shots should also work nicely without any sawing. I have found that it takes quite a bit of weight (relatively speaking) to change the dot speed all that much. With the weight shown in the picture below, it only slowed it about 2 WPM.

pix_diary_20090914_01 (39K)

pix_diary_20090914_02 (47K)

For Geoffrey and anyone else interested, here is a new station picture also. Top left to right: TS-480SAT main unit, TS-570 with my homebrew tuner on top, TS-480SAT front panel in front of the 480 speaker which only acts as a stand for the clock on top most of the time as I use headphones 99.9 percent of the time, my calendar given as a gift by my aunt over 55 years ago even before I became a ham.

Bottom left to right: headphones, Bencher paddle, CMOS Super Keyer II, the bug, my two homebrew straight keys (the objects on top are just weights to keep the keys stable on the desk - maybe someday I'll get a heavy metal base for them), my log.

I've just posted a new CW story by W4SON in the CW section of the web site - Your CW Stories page. I found reading it quite fascinating. I hope you will also. In fact if you're new to the web site here, all the stories there, including especially the ones by teen-age hams are great reading. -30-

Sunday, September 13, 2009 7:32 PM - Don WA3ZBJ, Tom WY3H, and I had a good time at the Butler hamfest today. The weather was just as beautiful as it was for the portable operation Don and I did a couple weeks ago.

It was great to run into some NAQCC members there including KG3W and especially our brothers from NY who have been such strong supporters of the club almost from its inception nearly 5 years ago. I'm speaking of Mike N2COD and Tom KA2KGP.

Here's a picture of 5 of our special event station operators for our NAQCC 5th anniversary celebration in October.

pix_diary_20090913_01 (73K)

Now don't they look like they mean business? You better do your best to give them some QSO's during the week of Oct 12-18. From left to right that's N2COD, WY3H, KA2KGP, K3WWP, and WA3ZBJ.

One negative thing about the hamfest was I got stung by a bee. In the process I learned from Tom about a good remedy for a bee sting. Among other duties at the paper where he worked, he was an outdoors reporter and told me to put some wet sugar on the sting. They were serving coffee so I asked the woman attendant there for some sugar and a little water. I applied it and it worked great. The sugar sucks the venom out of the bite. -30-

Saturday, September 12, 2009 9:06 AM - I used the bug last night. I called CQ with it on 40M and got answered by someone sending slower than I was, so I switched to my SK for the QSO since I always try to match the speed of someone who answers me. I didn't feel I could comfortably adjust the bug speed just yet. After that I switched to 80M and worked another station. This time I used the bug for the whole QSO and didn't do too badly. I had a few either short or long dashes from the built-in automatic reaction that I was still using the keyer and it would set the length of the dash, not me. I also got a few extra partial dots from not releasing the dot side of the bug properly. Again a timing thing that the keyer would take care of, but not the bug. I'm going to stick with the bug as my main keying device for a while now and see how it goes.

As I replied in an email to Carl N5XE, it feels more like traditional CW using a bug than it does with a keyer. I like that feeling.

Here's a note from Paul N0NBD about the bug, "Wow, John, that is a neet suprise and I will look forward to your new found bug fist. And Larry W2LJ is a great guy!! I was at his blog earlier looking at the pictures of the local labor day parade... cool pictures de Paul N0NBD". Paul is right about Larry for sure. Speaking of pictures, I'll try to have a picture of my bug here tomorrow.

If you're in the area tomorrow, Tom WY3H, Don WA3ZBJ, and I are going to the Butler, PA hamfest or swap meet north of Butler on route 8. Possibly Tom's son Ethan W3IRS will be going also. Just Bing 'Butler hamfest September' to get to the web site for details if you're interested. We'd like to meet you there.

Right now I'm waiting for Ange to come over and we'll water his garden and pick some figs. I'm also somewhat dog-sitting today feeding and walking Joe till Nancy gets home from work. Bruce is returning from Indiana today, so that will be an interesting reunion between him and Joe. -30-

Friday, September 11, 2009 4:34 PM - I promised some more info on the bug today. It's a Vibroplex "Lightning Bug" Model, serial # 263457 which means it was manufactured in 1969. It's in excellent condition and Larry sent it with its original box. I hooked it up last night and after a week away from the other bug, it was easy to regain my bug fist. In fact, it seems more comfortable now than it did before with the other bug. That is NOT due to the bugs as both are very similar and both in excellent shape. It's something to do with me. Like my subconscious had been continuing the practice while I was away. Now that I've said that, I'll probably get on the air tonight with it (as I plan to do) and thoroughly mess up. HI

Other than fooling with the bug, a little garden work, walking Joe, and some computer work, not much else happened today (so far). I didn't even go fishing. So my total holds at 94 fish for the year. Unless I decide to go sometime in the next 3 hours before darkness arrives. I sure hate to see it getting dark earlier and earlier each day now. -30-

Thursday, September 10, 2009 9:33 PM - The first thing this morning I helped Ange pick figs from his garden, then went to his house to help him prune one of the pear trees there. That took most of the morning. When I got home, I found a package on the porch that arrived priority mail. I took that inside and set it on the table wondering what it could be. I hadn't ordered anything. Anyway before I opened it, I went over to check on Joe and to see Nancy. She sometimes worries if I kind of 'disappear' as I did for the whole morning.

After that I came back over here and satisfied my curiousity. I was astounded, shocked, and grateful at the same time. My friend Larry W2LJ sent me a Vibroplex bug along with congrats on the 15 years of my streak and the 14th anniversary of the web site. It's very hard to express in words how I feel about that, and I have yet to find the words to thank Larry personally, but I will do that tomorrow for sure. Meanwhile here are my public thanks to you, Larry.

I'll have a little more about the bug tomorrow in the diary, but now I've got to close and go over to see Joe again. Nancy was working this evening and should be home in a few minutes. Joe always likes to wait on the porch for her to come home. -30-

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:07 PM - I just got home from the computer club meeting, checked on Joe, got my daily QSO, and am now talking on the phone with Tom, so I'm not going to have much of an entry today.

I'll just mention one thing that happened today. I received my QSL card from my Alaskan QSO with KL7J on 30M, so that officially completes my 30M WAS.

Tomorrow I'll try to have more info. -30-

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 9:19 PM - It was 14 years ago today that I uploaded the very first version of my web site to my then site host, Geocities. Again as with my streak, Eric KB3BFQ is involved in the story. We both were thinking about starting a web site. Eric thought about a sports site, specifically ice hockey since that was his favorite sport at the time. I was undecided between an auto racing or ham radio site. Winston Cup auto racing was my favorite sport at the time, but the decision went to a ham radio site. Specifically I wanted to describe how WA8EOH and I started the CW County Hunters Net back in 1966. That was the main thrust of the site as first conceived. However it quickly expanded to other ham radio topics that promoted the use of CW and QRP.

I thought the best way to show how efficient CW/QRP was compared to other modes would be to give examples of what I had done with CW, 5 watts or less power, and simple wire antennas. So I made up pages showing the awards I had earned - DXCC, USA-CA, WAS, WAC, WPX - or were working for - WAZ. I gave credit to the stations I worked for DXCC, WAS, WAC, WAZ by listing their calls on the pages.

There were not many contest calendars on the Internet then compared to today, so I started one that showed only contests involving CW operation so CW fans could easily find them without wading through non-CW contests.

A CW section was added to give tips and information about operating CW. This section also promoted the best of all CW clubs - FISTS. About the same time as the web site started, I started writing the QRP column for the FISTS newsletter, Keynote. After allowing some exclusivity to the Keynote, I posted back editions of the column on the web site. One of my favorite pages in the CW section is the Teens and CW page featuring stories written by teenagers who use and love CW in this day and age when CW generally is an old timers' mode.

One of the most popular additions came in the DX section when I gathered a collection of QSL info servers together into one easy to use page. That remains a very popular page to this day. Also in the DX section, I provided tips on working DX with QRP and then getting the QSL card from the stations worked.

A homebrew section briefly described my homebrew station at the time, and later showed pictures of my simple antennas in response to many inquiries about them.

Of course every web site at that time had a collection of links, so I had one also. While it is still there, I feel it has limited interest now with the marvelous search engines such as Bing (www.bing.com) that have evolved since then. Now you just type a couple words into Bing to find links to anything at all you want to know about.

Again keeping with the theme of examples, I added my complete QRP logs to the web site. Not detailed logs, but just a brief date, band, call listing.

Without going into a great amount of technical details about propagation, I added a simple page with a few charts to show at a glance the daily state of the ionosphere and the resulting propagation conditions.

A QRP section evolved to one containing various QRP topics such as a list of QRP rigs, operating frequencies, and the like. Also stories and a chronology of my streak were added to that section.

A section on QSLing was added to show how different forms of QSLing worked for me. What percentage return did I get for different methods of attempting to get a QSL were presented in a table.

A visitor list section archived all my guestbook entries and a list of everyone who left an entry.

I don't have a specific chronology of just when all the changes and updates to the site were made so the above listing is more or less just a description of the site and why I did what I did with it.

The latest main feature added to the site however is this diary and it seems to have proven very popular according to the comments I get from it and also a rather sharp increase in the number of visitors to the site that occurred shortly after its inception.

If you would like to see how the site changed its looks over the years, the Internet Archive has some screen dumps going back to 1998 here and from 2004 onward here

Perhaps some more history tomorrow. -30-

Monday, September 07, 2009 8:22 AM - Actually the 8th is technically the anniversary of the start of my web site, not today, so the history will be tomorrow here in the diary. Meanwhile Paul N0NBD writes about the picture in yesterday's entry, "I am pretty sure the fish was a Largemouth Bass. We catch a small mouth once and a while but they usually do not hang around the spots I fish. The fish story that goes with this picture. My son was reeling in a green sunfish about 4 inches long when a bass of about 18 inches tried to eat the gill at the edge of the boat. This same scenario happened on 3 fish last weekend and one fish this weekend. I had seen some Harold Ensley footage [Sportsman's Friend TV show years ago] where he was fighting a gill in and a HUGE bass swallowed the gill. Ole Harold being the consummate sportsman turned the bass loose as the gill was actually on the hook not the bass. If Les had not been there to see it happen 4 times in 2 weeks I would not even tell the story as it would surely qualify as a "whopper" of a fish story. Cul John and Good Fishing de Paul N0NBD"

OK, that settles that. I've found the easiest way to tell a largemouth from a smallmouth is the (obviously enough) size of the mouth as shown in the picture montage (gee, I used that word twice in three entries now) I made up below:

pix_diary_20090907_01 (119K)

Although the markings are very different on these two fish, in real life the markings are not that distinct between the two. However looking at the end of the mouth seems to be very reliable.

As for the rest of Paul's story, I don't think that is too unusual. I've had that happen to me a few times. Not with a bluegill and a bass, but... The biggest Northern Pike (27 inches) I ever caught came when I was reeling in with a Sandpike on my line. The Pike attacked when my line reached about 5 feet from shore. That's the Pike pictured on my pictures page in the main section of the web site. When I caught my 36 inch Muskie, I'm almost positive it happened when a smaller fish was going after the tiny piece of worm I had on my hook, and the Muskie went after the small fish and wound up himself on my hook. I just can't picture the Muskie going for such a tiny piece of worm itself, although if hungry enough, I guess it could have happened. I also remember one other similar situation when I hooked something small, and a bigger fish attacked it on the way in. I can't recall exactly the types of fish, but probably a chub and a bass, most likely.

Oh, and unlike Paul's lake there, most of the bass here in the river are smallmouth. I would say only a couple out of 50 or so are largemouth.

Here's some more info on Oktoberfest prompted by this email from NV4T. "Hate to tell you, but Oktoberfest actually is celebrated in September in Germany. It commemorates a royal wedding celebration! Auf Wiedersehn, Bill (Willi) Watson, NV4T"

Oh, no need to hate telling me. I'm delighted when folks read my diary so intently and comment on things in it. That's true that part of Oktoberfest in Munich is in September now. It has grown over the years into its current form of a 16 (sometimes 17 or 18) day celebration that ends on the first Sunday in October which means a portion of it is in September now.

However originally it celebrated the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810 hence the name of Oktoberfest. Just when the celebration dates were changed to an event that lasted 16 days I don't know. I guess the shorter celebrations in October didn't allow enough time to consume all that beer. HI.

Also as far as I know, most Oktoberfest celebrations in other countries continue the tradition of a shorter celebration entirely in October. For example Oktoberfest Northwest in Washington state is on October 9-11 this year. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in Ontario Canada is from October 9-17. However a few have yielded to greed and have expanded even larger than the original German Oktoberfest. One in Southern California runs from September 12th through October 25th!! Anything to serve the almighty buck.

One Oktoberfest that appeals to me as a teetotaler is the Cullman Alabama celebration from October 3-10. No alcohol beverages are served at that one since Cullman county is a dry county. The official beverage is a version of apple cider called Oktoberzest.

The bottom line is that an Oktoberfest ENTIRELY in September is somewhat of an oxymoron or anachronism.

I should explain the reference to sometimes 17 or 18 day celebration. I hate when others make a reference like that, then never explain it so I don't want to knowingly do that myself. Since unification of East and West Germany in 1994, if the first Sunday falls on the 1st or 2nd of October, the festival is extended to October 3rd, German Unity Day. -30-

Sunday, September 06, 2009 9:13 AM - "Hello John, That was a good garden report. My tomatoes have made a few to eat and still are setting on and the peppers have been going good as well. Your fishing reports of late have been GREAT with HUGE fish. Here is a picture from this morning. I caught several about this size and had a blast cul de Paul N0NBD"
pix_diary_20090906_02 (30K)

It's amazing the infinite variety of color, markings, shape, fin structure and other details fish in the very same species can have. According to the fin structure, shape, and color that looks like a spotted bass Paul is holding, yet it doesn't quite have the markings of a spotted bass as I know them. Could be a largemouth or smallmouth also. The same species also vary from area to area of the country. I'm curious to know just exactly what it is, Paul.

At any rate, it reminds me of 2002, 'The year of the bass' for me. That year beginning on August 6 and ending abruptly on October 21 I caught 217 bass in 48 trips to the river. Including 5 more earlier in the year that made 222 bass. Most all were caught in the same spot and most all with little minnows I'd catch in my minnow net. I never had anything like that before and it hasn't been repeated since. I don't know what made it that way. When it ended on October 21, it was just like someone turned off a switch. No tapering off, just a sudden stop. No sudden weather or obvious river change. 11 bass on October 21, not a hit on October 22 or thereafter. It was also interesting to note that generally the smaller the minnow, the bigger the bass it would catch.

Now on to another subject although it does deal with the park and the river. What's wrong with this picture?

pix_diary_20090906_01 (156K)

Where else but in Kittanning would you find an Oktoberfest in September? Some folks running this town have some strange ideas. But that's a whole other story I won't go into here in the diary.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the start on my web site, so that will be the topic of my diary entry then. -30-

Saturday, September 05, 2009 7:59 AM - Some feedback. "John, Your portable operations look most enjoyable, thanks for sharing. Elwood, WB0OEW"

Geoffrey - "You know how CW ops sometimes hear code all around them, in ambient background noise? I think I'm starting to hear tuners". Ain't that the truth.

Now for those of you who have been asking about my garden, here's a summary and a few pix. I tried not to plant as big a garden this year, and really only succeeded in reducing the number of tomato plants by a couple. All the other crops were probably about the same amount.

The lettuce and the Siberian tomatoes were the stars this year. Although long gone now, my lettuce crop was by far the best ever. The Siberians gave me well over 100 little tomatoes starting in May, and one of the three plants looks like it thinks it is still April as it is getting a second life as shown here. The one to the left in the picture has just about had it, while the one that was to the right gave up the ghost a month ago.

pix_diary_20090905_01 (165K)

I had three sets of pole beans planted. One shown here in a crude quickly constructed montage really grew well. It has produced a few hundred beans and is still going strong. I think that's about as far around the corner of the house as they've ever gotten. The second set did not do very well, and I tried a late planting a few weeks ago, and it is doing pretty well, although there may not be enough time for it to really produce.

pix_diary_20090905_02 (139K)

The final picture shows one of my Early Girl tomato plants and one set of bush beans. The Early Girls are producing nice good looking tomatoes, but not a whole lot of them as they usually do. The bush beans are doing great and I've enjoyed over 150 beans from them so far.

pix_diary_20090905_03 (132K)

That leaves the peppers. I guess you could say they are doing about average. Giving me just enough peppers to keep me happy.

As for flowers, I thought they were down this year. The daylillies had a shorter season than usual, although they were nice while they produced flowers. The roses had a very good first crop, but very little the second time around, and it looks like most are done for the season now except for one yellow rose plant. -30-

Friday, September 04, 2009 9:17 PM - For the first time in quite a while, other than in contests, my QSO of the day came on 80M. There was a R(A)TTY contest on 40M and the band was long, so I tried 80M and got an answer to my first CQ there from my friend Gary N2ESE. I guess I'll be using 80 more and more now as we slip into fall and winter.

Here's an interesting article on sunspots pointed out to me by Roy W5RJ.

Today is one of the busiest days my web site has had in quite a while. In fact my visitor count has started to pick up nicely again after the forced URL change some time ago. My 30 day running average topped 100 today for the first time since back on April 7 of this year. It had dipped as low as 76.8 on July 23 and 24.

My web site also has a birthday coming up in a few days. It will be 13 years old and entering its 14th year. More about that later.

I know, I promised an update on the garden, but I wanted to include some pictures and didn't get a chance to take them today, so maybe tomorrow. The highlights are my one Siberian tomato plant getting a second life, and my pole beans reaching new heights (sort of). -30-

Thursday, September 03, 2009 10:52 PM - The beautiful weather continues. Two fishing trips today. One in the afternoon yielded a 15 inch sucker which was fish #88 for the year, tying all of last year. A trip this evening with just lures yielded nothing, not even a hit.

My KL7J QSO on 30M showed up in the LotW a couple days ago, so that makes all 50 states veried on 30M one way or other now.

That's it for now. I think tomorrow I'll try to bring you up to date on my garden. -30-

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 9:17 PM - Now let me ask you, can you possibly have a better day than this for a portable operation?

pix_diary_20090902_001 (43K)

That's the view we had of a portion of the Kittanning Community Park looking out from our operating position on a picnic table in a small open shelter. With a day like that, operating almost took a second seat to just enjoying the perfect September weather. However we did get set up and did operate. Here I am logging one of our first QSO's.

pix_diary_20090902_002 (99K)

Here'a a wider view of our shelter shack with Don's car in the foreground. You can see part of our antenna sloping down behind the car.

pix_diary_20090902_003 (53K)

Don made his share of the QSO's also as shown here.

pix_diary_20090902_004 (72K)

That's our picture gallery. Now my comments on the operation. Since Don was more experienced than me in setting up for portable operation, I assumed the position of worker under his leadership. My first task was to get the center conductor of his inverted vee up in a tree. He handed me a golf ball with a long string attached and told me to pick out a good limb. I did, and got the golf ball over the limb on the first try. I attached the center conductor while Don fastened the one end of the vee to another tree. Then he gave me a tent peg to fasten the other end. The ground was hard, but I got a small rock, pounded in the peg and fastened the cord on the end of the antenna. Don fastened another length of coax to reach his K-1. We hooked up the paddle to the rig and were ready to go. We got an immediate answer to our first CQ from Joe K2JT, followed by KF4WK, and then WY3H. We never did check the SWR, so we paused to do that and found that for those first 3 QSO's, we were running only 1/2 watt. We upped the power to 5 watts, and Don worked K9DP, after which I worked W4ELP to conclude our 40M operation. We had a hard time getting close to 7040 as planned because a lot of other activity was near there including several tuners. Perhaps that kept our QSO total down a bit.

At 1730Z we switched to 20M, and tried chasing some DX for a little while with no success. The DX stations were very strong, but just were not hearing us. 14060 was a lot like 7040 - busy and/or with tuners. So overall we probably should have stayed on 40M as we only had 3 20M QSO's.

All in all though it was a lot of fun, and it got me to liking portable operation more and more. For one thing there is a world of difference both in signal strength and noise level between a hilltop QTH like today and my normal QTH down here in the valley. Signals are much stronger up there, and compared to here, the bands sound very quiet when tuning across unoccupied space. The signal to noise ratio is at least 100% better there.

Maybe I'll say more about the operation in tomorrow's entry, but it's quite late now and I still have other things to get done before bed. -30-

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 9:14 PM - Looks like fall is not far away. Just looking at my log for the past few evenings, and my QSO of the day in the 00Z hour. 40M is going long skip earlier and earlier. The last 6 evenings show my QSO was from MN, GA, CT8 (30M), AZ, FL, and this evening NM. Won't be long now till I'll be shifting to 80M for a 00Z hour QSO, I guess.

I'm looking forward to our portable operation tomorrow. I checked the Community Park today to be sure it was still open. So it looks like we are set to go. The weather should be sunny with temperatures in the mid 70's. You can't ask for much better than that. Once again as a reminder we will be on 40M from 1630-1730 and 20M from 1730-1830. 7040 on 40 and 14060 on 20. We'll be using the NAQCC club call N3AQC.

I'm now just one fish shy of my total for all last year after catching 2 more today. A fighting 26 inch carp and a 13 inch sucker. It was a lot of fun landing the carp. It was on my spinning reel and rod, and took about 15 minutes to get him in after he did his best to take all the line off my reel. He took me on a tour up and down the river a couple hundred feet in the process.

It was nice to catch a carp on a normal day. I mean it wasn't after a rain or anything like that. He just came along and decided he liked the worm I was offering. More and more I think the river is turning for the better again after a couple more or less off years including that carp virus I mentioned earlier. -30-

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:40 PM - The sked for Wednesday is pretty much as in the updated version of yesterday's entry. Don and I will be operating at the park from 1630-1830Z with the NAQCC club call N3AQC. The first hour on 40M around 7040 and the second hour on 20M around 14060. Those are the two bands Don has on his K-1 that we'll be using. Looks like some beautiful weather for our operation.

On the whole here in Kittanning, the two best overall weather months seem to be May and September if you like moderate temperatures and lots of sunny days.

September not only has the good weather, but some of the best fishing of the year here. My average catch in September is 33.9 fish, a very close second to August with 34.1. In third place is July with 27.9 fish.

I closed out August today with 4 fish caught for a total of 35 which as you can see is just a tad above normal. I'm now up to 85 for the year, still around 18 below normal at this point, but with some more days like the past few, I may catch up a bit, although the average also goes up quite fast at this time of year also. I'm definitely planning to go just about every day this week except for Wednesday if nothing else comes up. The weather is supposed to be great all week through at least Labor Day. -30-

Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:40 PM - (updated) This Wednesday, September 2, Don WA3ZBJ and I plan to do a bit of portable operating from the Community Park here in Kittanning. The park is located on top of a fairly high hill with much less horizon blockage than my QTH down here in the river valley.

We had been thinking about a possible trip down to the Requin in Pittsburgh, but that fell through for reasons I won't bother you with here. So we decided on this as a backup plan.

Don has a K-1 with 40 and 20 meters. We plan to operate in the afternoon from 1630-1830Z with the first hour on 40 and the second on 20.

You may remember that Mike KC2EGL and I went up to the Community Park a couple months ago to do some antenna work with his KX-1. However we two dummies forgot to bring a pair of headphones. We got the tuning done, but never did get to check what reception was like up there. I'm curious to see how much better it is up on that hill. I know it was much better when I operated at my cousin's QTH out of this valley a few years ago and also at Tom WY3H's QTH for some Hoot Owl Sprints, a couple of which were from his hilltop property.

Don and I will probably use the NAQCC club call N3AQC. However if anyone wants a QSO with us using our own calls, we can accomodate you.

If that interests you, check the diary the next couple evenings for more specific details. -30-

Saturday, August 29, 2009 7:41 PM - Paul N0NBD writes again and mentions a simple way to add weight to a bug is to simply wrap solder around the reed that holds the weight.

Another good day fishing with another half dozen caught. Only one carp today though, a 27 incher. Also 3 carpsuckers, 1 sucker, and 1 bass. I'm now up to 81 for the year so just 7 behind my total for all of last year. Still 18 below average for the date so far though.

Not much else to write about. I'm just waiting for the clock to turn to 0000Z so I can go try to add another day to my streak which just passed 5,500 days a couple days ago now. -30-

Friday, August 28, 2009 7:42 PM - Fishing, then some feedback on the bug.

Today was a throwback to the 1950s/60s as far as fishing goes. The 1.5 inches of rain today really brought the carp into the storm sewer outlets. At least the one I was fishing at. I caught 5 of them, and should have had 7. One I got too anxious and jerked prematurely. Another one threw the hook after a couple minute fight. Two were caught on little red worms on a small (about #10) long shank hook on my spinning reel. Those were 25 and 27 inches. The other three on peanut butter bread with my old bait casting reel and rod. They were 27, 24, and 24 inches. All 5 were really good fighters. The two on the spinning reel took about 10-15 minutes each to land. The others were at least 5-10 minutes. One of the 24 inch ones took about 25 minutes. He got tangled in an underwater branch or something, and I could pull him in so far, but no further. Then I let him take my line back out, hoping he'd free himself. Well, it took a while but finally he did and I landed him easily as he was tired out. I really wondered what I had on at first. I had visions of something really huge that just wasn't budging till I figured out after a few minutes what was going on.

On top of that, I also caught my biggest ever carpsucker at 26 inches. He put up quite a fight as well, probably 5-10 minutes also. All in all a really fun visit to the river. I'm up to 75 fish now in about 61 trips so I may finish above an average of 1 fish per trip this year. My 11 carp this year has already topped last year's total of 9 all year.

A couple years ago we had some kind of virus that killed a lot of carp, and perhaps just now they are recovering from that. Anyway they seem to be picking up again now, and becoming more aggressive as well. Something they weren't last year.

Now in a nice segue Paul N0NBD says about fishing and bug sending, "Hello John, I am glad to read your no fish streak is done. I have not fished for two weeks. I had to work one weekend and was stormy another. I am looking forward to Saturday and some good fishing. On to the topic;...

I have been reading the bug talk on the diary. I had a bug for quite a while and used it a lot. I never did get to where I was satisfied with my sending so I sold it. I have worked a few bug operators that were a thing of beauty to hear. For the most part the other bug ops send 30wpm dits and 10wpm dahs and that makes me CRAZY. These same guys can send CQ and their call well but after that it is "Katy bar the door"...Just try to copy..... Just my thoughts, good luck fishing. de Paul N0NBD".

Oh I didn't see that last 'good luck fishing'. That must be why I did so well today.

Yes Paul, unfortunately there are a lot of mal-adjusted bugs out there. It's nice to hear someone with a 'swing' in their bug fist, but there's no need to supply the one who is copying you with enough extra dits to last a lifetime.

When I was playing with the bug here, I noticed that because I had to think hard about sending those manual dashes, I had to slow down to get it right. In doing so, the dits couldn't be slowed enough with the single weight on the bug. I had to improvise by adding more weight as I mentioned earlier. Perhaps that is the problem with some of the poor bug fists heard on the bands. As is, the dits can't be slowed down enough to be controlled by the operator. Something to think about. It's easy to add a little more weight in many ways. -30-

Thursday, August 27, 2009 9:12 PM - I had a QSO today using the bug. I sent pretty well with only a couple mistakes. Still no one will mistake my bug sending with my keyer sending by any means. I think I can go back and forth between the two if I wish, but it does take some concentration to make the switch. Perhaps I'll get myself a bug some day if I can find one I can afford.

I ended my fishing shutout streak at two trips today. I got a 20 inch carpsucker who apparently didn't like being caught. First as I was reeling him in, he was determined to get tangled in the line on my other pole, and he did. Then he proved to be one of the slimiest carpsuckers I've ever caught and really slimed up my line. Finally as he departed he made sure to splash me as I was bending down to untangle the lines. Anyway I'm back on track now.

The next couple days are supposed to be rainy here, so if the timing is right, maybe I'll get to the river and find some carp in the storm sewer outlets. Or maybe some drums. -30-

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 9:49 PM - Another long busy day helping others today. Principally picking veggies for Ange from his garden while he had other commitments today, then helping Tom WY3H cure some problems with his computer and printer.

So I'm going to let this feedback on my bug entry from Geoff AE4RV serve as my entry today. "John, I was one of those straight-key-only types until recently. The old straight key and Morse seemed inseparable to me. I would read about Edison's telegraphy days and WW II code breakers, the radio room in the Titanic, etc. and there was always a regular straight key. Paddles seemed to "modern" to me. (I now realize that keyers and electric bugs go way back). Since getting active again this year I've gotten my speed up a bit and finally started using a single lever paddle (a Vibrokeyer that I had collected years ago) with the keyer built in to my K1 and 746Pro. I found that I liked it quite a bit and it wasn't unnatural at all. It added a new enjoyment to the hobby.
Only a month or two later I switched to a bug. The fact that I didn't spend much time using a keyer probably helped. Going back to the keyer doesn't seem to be a big deal but I sometimes manually do the dashes which doesn't seem to affect timing.
I've been fascinated with bugs ever since I learned of them shortly after becoming a Ham but never thought I'd use on air. I'm glad I finally did. CW has never been so fun to send! (Thanks to WA2WMR for encouragement.)
I made this Flash piece years ago after a friend gave me a bug and I was finally able to see how it worked: http://www.ae4rv.com/tn/education/bug.htm
Also, you can date the NAQCC bug here: http://vibroplex.com/date_your_vibroplex.html
I hope whoever gets that bug uses it. It is a beautiful, fascinating and historical instrument.
73, Geoff, AE4RV"

Obviously Geoff hasn't seen this particular bug, and is referring to bugs in general. But he is also correct about this bug here as well. I haven't had a chance to try the links in Geoff's email yet, but that one about dating the bug sounds very intriguing, and I certainly will try it as soon as I can.

Finally here's a great source that I found by Binging 'bug adjustment' that describes in detail how to correctly set all the many adjustments on a bug. The picture happens to look exactly like the bug here, but the article should apply to other bugs also. See http://www.telegraph-office.com/pages/bug_adjust.html -30-

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:43 PM - I guess I shouldn't have said anything about the end of August and first part of September being about my best fishing period of the year. For the second day in a row now, I was shutout at the river.

One of our NAQCC members who wishes to remain anonymous donated a very nice Vibroplex bug to the club to be given away as a prize. We haven't decided how to give it away yet, but it arrived here in the mail yesterday. I am playing with it ostensibly to make sure it works OK, but really to see if I can still use a bug after being away from one next to forever. I guess I last used a bug in the mid 1960's. Since then it's been nothing but a keyer and at times a straight key.

First of all, the bug was way out of adjustment so I adjusted all the settings as best as I could. There must be a dozen adjustments in all. Then I hooked it up to the rig and turned off the VOX which disables CW transmitting, but still activates the sidetone. I immediately found that even with the weight set way out at the end of the vibrating lever, the speed was too fast for my completely out of practice bug use. I tried to send anyway and it was hard to break the habit of waiting for automatic dashes to be sent when I pressed the dash side of the bug. I finally did train myself a bit to send the manual dashes, but gave up after a few minutes.

That was last evening. This evening I added some weight to the lever to slow down the dots a bit so I could concentrate more on making dashes. Now the dots came very easily since of course the action in making them is almost exactly like making dots with a paddle and keyer. I found that it didn't take all that long till I was sending about 80 percent quite good code with the bug. Some letters were trickier than others. Perhaps surprisingly, the letters with just a single dash like A, U, V, R, D, N, etc. I would release the dash side of the bug prematurely and come up with much too short a dash. With the multi-dash letters, I didn't seem to have as much trouble. M, O, P, G, etc. and the numbers 7, 8, 9, 0 were pretty easy. Occasionally though, I still would wind up with a very long dash instead of two or three separate dashes.

All in all, I think I could become fairly proficient with a bug after not too much more practice. But I'm wondering then if that in turn would take its toll on my keyer fist. Or can I switch back and forth easily? Time will tell, although I'll have to get a bug of my own if I intend to pursue the matter, since this one is only here temporarily until we give it away to some NAQCC member. -30-

Monday, August 24, 2009 11:13 PM - It's near the end of a long day, so this will be a short entry. The day started early when Bruce and I went fishing. For the first time in a while now, I was shut out, but Bruce caught three. It was also one of the longest fishing sessions I've had in a while at just under 5 hours. Even without catching any, I enjoyed it. The weather was nice, the fish were biting, and I was glad to see Bruce catch something.

And to end the day, I just came in from doing some star-gazing. Bruce and I took my telescope out to look at Jupiter, some deep sky objects like M11 and M13, some double stars, the Andromeda galaxy and the like. -30-

Sunday, August 23, 2009 7:10 PM - I've been keeping this a secret for the past few months now, but I think it's finally time to go public. I've become tired of operating with QRP and simple wire antennas and purchased some land on a high hill around Kittanning with the intent of putting up a real antenna farm. It's now completed, and here is a picture of the antennas. I think you can easily see the beams, but what might not show up clearly are the inverted vee's coming off of the towers for 160, 80, and 40 meters.
pix_diary_20090823_001 (103K)

I could lead you on, but if there is anyone out there reading this who believes the first paragraph, I've got a great deal for you on some swamp land down in Florida at only $10,000 dollars per acre.

Actually that's a picture of the antenna farm at the Skyview Radio Society near New Kensington where Tom WY3H and I attended a hamfest today. We had a really good time. It's always nice to see our friend Bob WC3O from the club although he was busy being a chef today and we didn't get to talk much with him. In fact well into the hamfest he said he hadn't even had a chance to walk around to the various tables and tailgaters. Nice also to visit with other members of the club. Bill W3RSR invited us to come up with some kind of a QRP gathering at their site next summer. You'll have to follow the NAQCC news for info on that as the time draws near. If I mention all the nice folks I talked with there, this entry will be much too long.

Tom and I each got to try out the equipment at the club's radio shack. Tom called CQ on 20M and wound up with a small pile-up to contend with. I think that was on the quad pictured above with around 100 watts or so. I was just listening for the most part, but when I sat down in front of the ICOM IC-756PRO, I just had to give it a whirl. It was set to 30M, and after tuning around a while, I called NG9D and had a short QSO with him. I'm not sure what the power was, but Brian from the club said probably 100 watts, and it was currently hooked to a vertical antenna. Like I said in my entry about the Requin, making QSO's with equipment like that is not to my taste. There's no real satisfaction in it for me.

Here's a picture of the 756. Unfortunately I see now I jiggled the camera and the picture is blurry. So below is a picture from the Internet of a similar rig.
pix_diary_20090823_002 (134K)
pix_diary_20090823_003 (3K)

I fell in love with the spectrum display on the rig immediately. If I ever buy another rig, it will be one with such a display. You can tell at a glance where the activity is on a portion of any band. I'm not sure if the bandwidth of the display is variable or not. I believe it was set at +/- 12.5 kHz when I was using it on 30M. Anyway it's a great feature.

Of course, I'll have more on perhaps this and other things in tomorrow's entry, but right now I think I'll go over and visit with Joe for a little while. Both Bruce and Nancy have been away for a couple hours and he's probably lonely. -30-

Saturday, August 22, 2009 7:37 PM - I've had some upload problems with the diary the past couple days. I think all will be OK from now on. Sorry about that.

Not much happening today, so I want to pass along an interesting tidbit from Tom WY3H, and then follow up on some more WAS statistics that I started when I worked KL7J to finish my 30M WAS.

Tom recently worked a ham down in VA. I forget the call, but this story will also be written up in our NAQCC newsletter and other places, I'm pretty sure. This ham was losing his sight and soon would be blind. He said because of that, he is going back to CW since he would no longer be able to communicate easily with his computer to use the digital modes he had been using of late.

That is something to think about, and another excellent reason to learn and use CW on the ham bands. You really don't need to see anything to be able to use Morse Code. In fact you can be blind and dumb and still be able to enjoy this most wonderful of all ham radio modes. As far as that goes, you can be virtually, perhaps completely deaf and still operate Morse Code. We have a deaf NAQCC member who is an excellent CW operator and always does well in our NAQCC sprints. I don't think I'll embarrass him if I mention him by name. I hope not. It's Tom KA2KGP, and I've met him in person at a couple hamfests. He communicates via sign language interpreted for those of us who don't know it by his brother Mike N2COD.

I'm just thinking as I'm typing this that at the last hamfest, Tom (KGP) kind of snuck up behind me as I was talking to someone else and sent his call on a CPO which was at the Skyview Radio Club table next to us. Now that CPO audio was not all that loud, yet Tom sent his call perfectly on a paddle he wasn't familiar with. I'm not sure just how he managed that if he can't hear. I guess like in the movie "Tommy" where the deaf, dumb, blind kid is a pinball playing wizard, this Tom is a Morse Code wizard although he is just deaf.

Now on to some WAS stats before I sign off here and go get my streak QSO. As you know by now, I love statistics, math, and analyzing things. If you don't this may not be of interest to you. OK, you've been warned.

I went through my log and marked down the first QSO with each state on each band 160 through 6 meters. I didn't include 6 in the following though. Of course, I'm in Pennsylvania and that has to be kept in mind as you read the following. Also these stats are since 1992 when I returned to the air and have been strictly CW/QRP/simple wire antennas since then.

My first state on each band:
160 MD
80 NJ
40 MD
30 MI
20 FL
17 GA
15 CA
12 MN
10 PA

My last state on each band (number of states worked on that band if not 50):
160 KS (42)
80 HI (49)
40 NV
30 AK
20 VA
17 WY (42)
15 DE
12 OR (25)
10 ND (48)

I averaged the number of each state for all 9 bands to see which was the easiest to work overall. That may not be clear, so let me give a brief example. If PA was #3 on 160M, #1 on 80M, and #5 on 40M, that's 3+1+5=9 divided by 3 bands = an average of 3.0 for PA. Now some states I haven't worked on all bands, so some are divided by 9, some by 8, 7, 6 in this first list.

Easiest to work and average position (number of bands worked):
IL 11.2 (9)
PA 13.3 (9)
OH 14.6 (7)
WI 14.9 (9)
GA 15.4 (8)
Hardest to work and average position (number of bands worked):
NV 42.2 (6)
HI 39.3 (8)
AK 36.9 (7)
WY 36.8 (8)
ID 34.3 (7)
ND 34.0 (9) - hardest completed on all 9 bands

Now if I assume a ranking of 50 for a state not worked on a band, and then average all states by 9 bands the figures change a bit.

Easiest to work and average position (bands actually worked on):
IL 11.2 (9)
PA 13.3 (9)
WI 14.9 (9)
NC 15.9 (9)
FL 16.4 (9)

Hardest to work and average position (number of bands worked):
NV 44.8 (6)
HI 40.4 (8)
AK 39.8 (7)
WY 38.2 (8)
ID 37.8 (7)
VT 37.6 (7)

Surprises? Not a lot. VA being my last state on 20M. VT 6th hardest to work in the second means of figuring. NV harder than AK and HI - well, before several top notch contesters showed up from NV, it was hard to work.

If you're not totally bored and have actually gotten this far, perhaps the date I completed WAS on each band would be of interest.

40 8/13/95
30 8/18/09
20 7/8/95
15 11/14/99

And the date of the last state worked on those bands I haven't completed:

160 1/28/07
80 2/22/09
17 6/11/02
12 1/18/01
10 12/11/99

OK, enough. -30-

Friday, August 21, 2009 7:03 PM - Another fishing day today. A bit slow in the catching, but at least they were biting quite a bit of the time I was there until someone turned out the biting light. It's amazing how all of a sudden sometimes for no obvious reason, a good biting time just comes to an end.

I managed to catch two 15 inch suckers or the same one twice maybe. I'm still about 20 below average for the year so far. However I'm 30 ahead of last year at this point. I guess it was really lousy last year. HI.

Over the years since 1992, the last part of August and the first Part of September has been the best fishing period for me. So if I can get in a lot of trips in that time frame, I may be able to catch 100 fish this year which I didn't do last year. Here's a graph showing that. The blue line is the total caught each day of the 18 years. That is a sum of all the fish caught on Jan 1, Jan 2.....Dec 30, Dec 31. The red line is a smoothed average over 7 days.
pix_diary_20090821 (48K)

I think the graph shows more than anything that I'm a warm weather fisherman. I've only fished 11 times total from Dec through March. Those times on the rare very warm winter days that do come along every now and then. I have one fish (a carp) to show for the 11 trips and that was on the last day of March 2006. -30-

Thursday, August 20, 2009 8:18 PM - This was a quiet day for a change here. Not really much to talk about in the diary. Mostly I just did routine things like my usual computer work for the NAQCC. That never stops. I also did some house cleaning and some shopping. I guess that pretty much sums up the day. Now as I'm typing this, there is a line of showers/thundershowers about to pass through, and I'm watching the radar trying to find out how it's going to hit us. I'm hoping for enough rain to water Turco's gardens. If so, I shouldn't have to water them myself any more as he will be back from vacation on Saturday. In the past week since he left, I've had to water every other day so far, so some relief from that would be nice. But I don't want it to get out of hand either, and storm too much. I guess time will tell. Looks like about an hour and a half should give me an answer. -30-

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:04 PM - Yet another good August day. Gee, I wonder if I'm being prepared for a really lousy September? I usually don't get so many really good things in one month like I've gotten this month.

We had a shower this afternoon that put down around a quarter inch of rain in a short time, and I thought I'd go check the storm sewer outlet in the river for carp. When I got there, I saw a lot of activity. Most of it was some kind of fish chasing the minnows that gathered around the outlet. I probably could have done really well with a lure or live minnows, but I only brought my carp pole and some peanut butter bread. I watched the fish play for about a half hour when suddenly I got a strike, picked up the pole and felt like I had a runaway freight train hooked. Of course it was a carp. The only question was how big. From the weight I though maybe a 30 inch or more, but from the fight, I bet on a 26 incher as they seem to be the best fighters. When I finally got him to surface and saw him, I saw he was coming in sideways, so I figured he got the second hook in his side or in a fin. When I got him in further though, I got puzzled. It looked like there was more of my line on the other side of the carp trailing after him. I thought maybe I picked up some one else's or maybe my own line that had been lost before some time. Not so. When I got him to shore, remarkably he wasn't hooked at all but was attached to my line a couple feet up from the hooks. The line popped off as soon as I reached in the water and flopped him up on shore so I have no idea how he was being held. I guess maybe he was originally hooked and the line wrapped around one of his fins, then he threw the hook during the fight, but the line kept fastened. I never will know exactly. Oh, he turned out to be 27 inches.

The tip guide on my rod had been coming loose and I meant to fix it, but never found the time. Now after the carp fight, it had turned 90 degrees and was just barely hanging on. I decided to keep fishing anyway cause I didn't know how long the carp would stay in the sewer. After about another half hour, I again got the hooked freight train feel. This carp was even in more of a hurry and spun the reel so fast and strong, it burned my thumb as I pressed it on the reel to try to slow him down a bit. He took off right up along the river bank and I was afraid he was headed for a weed bed on the other side of the outlet which would have been very difficult to get to. Finally I managed to slow him down, then turn him away from the bed. The first fight took 10-15 minutes. This one was over a little quicker, but in the middle of it, the tip guide did break off completely. Still I landed him and measured him. Another 27 incher - maybe the same one? Anyway, those were two of the better carp fights of the year not counting the double catch a few weeks ago.

I couldn't do much with the broken pole now though, and I headed home to switch the reel to another pole and get a bite to eat. Then I went back to the river hoping the carp would still be there. However, this time it was a sucker of 14 inches not long after returning, and then an hour wait with nothing till I hooked a carpsucker. However the line snapped and he escaped. I fixed up the line with new hooks and sinker and about 10 minutes later got another carpsucker. This time I landed him - an 18 incher.

So after 8 days of no fishing, it was good to get back to the river and catch 4 nice fish. More showers coming the next couple days, so maybe there will be a repeat of today. -30-

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 7:36 PM - Out of curiosity today, I checked to see just how long I waited to get that 50th state on 30M. It was even longer than I thought. I worked Hawaii (KH6CC) for # 49 on July 4, 1995. So that's over 14 years to wait for a final state. I could have gotten it a lot sooner by making a sked with an Alaskan station, but I don't like to do things that way. I prefer to let states, DX, etc. come along as they may. It's much more fun, satisfying, and exciting that way. I've said this before but as far as I can recall I've only used anything pre-arranged twice. I made a sked to get ID on 80M mainly because a friend out there offered to help me with it. He was AC7QG who tragically became a SK not long after our QSO. The other time was when a friend told me he saw V51AS spotted on 30M, and wondered if I could work him. I tried and did work him for a new band country. Other than that, virtually everything else has come by simply tuning the bands, calling CQ, or getting in contests. Nothing against those who use spots, nets, etc. to find things. I just prefer to do a little more work to earn my accomplishments. -30-

Monday, August 17, 2009 10:22 PM - Hey, the good things keep happening this month. I just finally finished my 30M WAS with a QSO with KL7J about a half hour ago. I don't know how long I was stuck at 49 states on 30M, but it must be over 10 years.

It was one of those serendipity things. Normally I would have gotten on around 0000Z to get my streak QSO, but tonight Bruce and I were playing chess against my computer which lasted till about 0150Z, after which I went to my shack. I called CQ on 40M for a few minutes with no results, and decided to check 30M. I started around 10.120 and tuned down without hearing a thing till I hit 10.1035. I stopped and heard KL7J K. Without caring if he was in a QSO or calling CQ, I sent my call and got a K3W?, so I sent my call twice again and got a K3WWP 449. I sent him a 569, and he said thanks and 73. I raised my fist and yelled, "YES!!!".

I think my excitement level was even higher than for my 'daylight' Australia QSO on 40M a couple weeks ago. Yes, it is possible to still get excited about a QSO even after 71,000+ of them. -30-

Sunday, August 16, 2009 2:17 PM - Greetings from summery Kittanning. Isn't it lovely? Finally some good 90 degree humid weather without any associated thunderstorms. I've waited for this since May. This should be our third straight 90+ degree day, and we had a couple more about a week ago also. We've not had any really hot days though (95 or above). All the 90 degree days have just cracked the 90 degree barrier and topped out at 92 maximum. Maybe those 95+ days will still come.

I still remember the summer of 1988 here when we topped out at over 100 degrees on several days. There wasn't the attendant humidity then though. It was more like the dry desert heat of the Sahara or the SW USA. Because of the dryness, temperatures ranged greater than 40 degrees on many days. In fact every month from March through September that year had a mean daily temperature range above normal with June's range of 32.3 degrees being 7 degrees above normal.

I vividly remember the day that we hit 104 degrees in Kittanning (July 16), I was at my apartment it Pittsburgh (official high there only 103), and I just had to go out for a walk to experience that extreme record heat. 103 tied the all-time Pittsburgh high temperature in records that started in the early 1870's. The Pittsburgh temperature was from the airport station, and I'm sure it was even higher in the section of town I stayed in. In fact had the official Pittsburgh weather station still been at its old downtown location, I'm sure the record would have been broken rather than just tied.

Strangely enough just 15 days before that all-time (for my 1959-2009) high temperature of 104, we set the all-time (again my records) low for July of 40 degrees. It was a fascinating year for those of us interested in meteorology.

Conversely, this year is being touted as the year without any normal summer heat, although after the past few days that will have to be modified to something like, "the year of the very late arrival of summer." -30-

Saturday, August 15, 2009 11:22 AM - When I tuned in last night to get my QSO of the day, there was some kind of R(A)TTY contest going on on 40 with a bunch of computers working each other, and there was nothing to be had on 80, 30, or 20. So this was one of those rare days in the streak when I didn't get my QSO in the first couple hours of a day. However I easily got not one, but two QSO's in the 1300Z hour this morning, so no problem.

Otherwise the past couple days have been busy ones with the Requin trip, putting a sealer on my porch roof, watering Ange's garden while he's away till next Saturday, watering my own garden in this hot dry summer weather that FINALLY arrived, cutting my grass, doing a washing, and on and on.

I received one of our latest prizes to be given away in conjunction with some as yet undecided NAQCC event. It's a beautiful lamp with a telegraph key and an old vacuum tube mounted on the base. It was created and donated by Bill W0EJ. It's so wonderful I wish I could win it myself, but we club officers are not eligible for the prizes.

Well, I better move along now and figure what chore to tackle next. I know I have to water Ange's other garden around his house, but I'm not doing that till this evening. How about some of you doing a rain dance to get some rain here this coming week to ease my watering tasks. Just don't overdo and get us flooded out. -30-

Friday, August 14, 2009 8:14 AM - I guess I'll take another day off, and let your comments be my diary entry today.

John N8ZYA emails, "Hi John, I really enjoyed working the submarine today. Been wanting to do that for years. Great pictures too. I wrote it up on my blog and highlighted the club. Great "points" for working the club station again. They're adding up quickly."

We've got some nice QSL's from the Requin and NAQCC to send to all who worked us on the sub yesterday.

Paul N0NBD emails, "Glad to see ur OK and worked radio from the sub. I will await the write-ups in the publications. Sounds like ur fishing has picked up some too. I have tied up a couple variations of the "purple haze" fly to try on the fish at Buffalo. Years ago I remember they liked purple. Oh I was ready to send out the Allen County Rescue squad when there was no entry yesterday. HI de Paul"

I'm not sure what Paul means by the missing diary entry. Perhaps the upload that day didn't take for some reason. That's the only possibility as I had it written as I do every day. However, I don't have time to check to see if things actually do get posted.

Dave AA7EE emails, "John - Thank you for the interesting streak interview. I checked your website every morning for the next installment. Some mornings I was happy to find that the next part of the interview was already up (the 3 hour time difference between us helps); on other days I just had to be patient. Of all the questions asked, one stood out to me, and that was one of the ones you asked - "Do you think the streak has some importance in ham radio or is it just done for your personal satisfaction and nothing else?" I have recently ended a 20-plus year career in radio, production and voiceover and the most interesting questions in any interview are always the ones that help reveal why the subject of the interview does what he or she does. I'm just kicking myself for not asking a similiar question! Anyway, it was all good stuff, so thanks very much. I was thrilled to see that you used nearly all of my questions in your interview - that was most unexpected."

Well, the questions were all great and worthy to be used.

Don W2JEK emails these comments along with his NAQCC August Challenge report, "hi john, here is my august 2009 challenge entry. used my ft-840 at 5 watts with wire antennas and straight key. my congratulations to you on your sprint milestones. years ago i worked dick spencely kv4aa who set a record for the most contacts in a year and it was recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records. your sprint is also worthy such an honor and i hope that will happen. i also enjoyed reading the interview in your diary."

That would be a nice honor, but I don't go searching for honors. However should it ever happen, I hope it would serve as a great promo for the use of Morse Code. -30-

Thursday, August 13, 2009 5:04 PM - Our trip to the USS Requin was a very interesting one and a fun experience as well. I'm not going to say more about it here in the diary, because it will be written up in the FISTS Keynote and our NAQCC Newsletter. I respect the exclusivity rights of those publications and won't copy their efforts. However, if you promise not to tell, here's a picture of me doing some operating in the sub.
pix_diary_20090813 (65K)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009 10:16 AM - Some catching up comments after this feedback:

Paul N0NBD emails, "Hi John, I really enjoyed the interview. I feel like I have a little more insight into your life and work. Congratulations again on the 15 year streak and wishing you all the best. Stay well and hope the fishing is still good there. It was HOT and slow fishing both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was run off the water by "ol sol" by 9AM, just too hot to sit in the boat to fish. I did catch another 18 inch long channel cat Sunday. MAN those fish put up a fight on a 2 wt 2# test tippet on a fly rod. Be well and I will be riding along and reading."

Fishing was good here again yesterday. On that trip I mentioned, I caught a sucker and a carpsucker. Then after a rain later in the day, I went myself and caught 4 drums and a carpsucker. I could have gotten a lot more drums, but I had only a few nightcrawlers when I went and ran out after the 4th drum. Oh well... I also had 4 other carpsuckers (probably) on from my peanut butter bread, that slipped the hook before I landed or even saw them. That's frustrating, but it happens now and then.

The sprint was fun last night. I got a little late start because of talking with Nancy's 7 year old twin grandkids. Conditions were very good although the noise level was high. 80 was in great shape except for the noise which kept a lot of folks away. Those I worked on 80 though, for the most part had the best signals I've ever heard from them. I wound up with 37 QSO's, but I don't think that will hold up for a certificate this month.

This evening it's our computer club. We've got a guest speaker tonight, so I won't have to spend as much time with my usual demos. Then tomorrow Tom WY3H and I head off to Pittsburgh to operate the NAQCC club call N3AQC from the docked submarine Requin. -30-

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 8:22 AM - Back to work now writing a daily entry here in the diary. One of the questions asked if the streak was ever in danger of ending. Well, last night I turned on the rig to find some kind of local noise at 50 db over S9 on all the bands. So I had to wait till this morning to get my QSO. The noise was gone and although there wasn't much activity on the bands, I did work KF4TJE in TN to keep the streak going. I just hope the noise doesn't come back for our NAQCC sprint this evening.

Thanks to you for the nice comments on the interview. I'm glad so many of you enjoyed it. In case you hadn't noticed, I also updated the streak page in the QRP section of the web site to the 15 year mark now. If you enjoyed the interview, there is some additional info there concerning the streak.

For those of you who enjoy the fishing exploits, last evening we had a moderate shower, so I headed to my favorite storm sewer outlet. There was no one else fishing, which is unusual for the evenings here. I just took my old bait casting rod and reel and some peanut butter bread hoping for some carp. No carp, but I did catch a pair of 15 inch channel catfish. As soon as I caught the first one and released him, re-baited and cast in, the second one hit. So it only took a couple minutes out of the hour I spent there to catch a couple fish. Or maybe it was the same fish twice? They looked pretty much identical. I'm waiting now to go fishing with Bruce, his brother, and his brother's son to a place I've never tried before, so that should prove interesting.

Hope to see you in the NAQCC sprint this evening. It would be nice if conditions could be as good as they were for our NAQCC Slow Speed Net Sunday evening. Everyone there was over S9 for the time I was checked in. That's by far the best conditions ever for one of our nets. -30-

Monday, August 10, 2009 7:29 AM - Streak Interview - Part 6 of 6

John K3WWP: Do you think the streak has some importance in ham radio or is it just done for your personal satisfaction and nothing else?

K3WWP: It's always nice to do things to achieve personal satisfaction and to be proud of the accomplishment, but if that's all it were, the streak would have ended long ago. However, in this day and age, many hams are living in housing with limited antenna space or even antenna restrictions, and because of the cramped quarters there is a lot of susceptibility to TVI and RFI. In those situations, about the only alternative many think they have is to lose access to the wonderful hobby of ham radio. I think the streak shows them there is another alternative. I've proven conclusively with the streak that if you use CW, you can still succeed extremely well with QRP and simple wire antennas in those situations. I think making daily QSO's under those conditions to the tune of 15 years, 50,000+ QSO's, 200+ DX entities, WAS, WAC, 4 zones shy of WAZ, and many certificates in contests has given encouragement to many hams to try ham radio again in their restricted situations. And hey, I guess that does involve a lot of personal satisfaction and pride after all because helping folks in whatever way possible is the bottom line in life.

K3WWP: I work or hear in other ways from many hams who are rediscovering the joy of CW. I wonder if the streak contributes to that. What do you think?

K3WW: I think some may have done so because of the streak showing them how effective CW is and/or because they see how much fun I've had in the streak. However I'm sure the main reason is efforts by two wonderful CW clubs, FISTS and NAQCC that exist to promote the use of CW on the ham bands through their many varied activities. The NAQCC at QRP power levels only, and FISTS at all power levels.

K3WWP: When I worked at WPIT, I helped engineer and sometimes take part in a program called On the Traffic Beat with my good friend Nick Nicklas. When he interviewed someone on his show, many times the final question would be something like this which I ask you now. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't covered?

K3WWP: I think everything has been pretty well covered by the excellent questions asked by the several interviewers. But I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has ever commented on the streak over the 15 years. There has never been anything remotely close to being a negative comment. All either congratulate me, thank me for the encouragement it has given them, ask if I can give them tips to help them succeed as I have, and other such positive matters. The interview has been fun, and I hope we can do it again when the streak reaches 20 years in 2014. 73 to everyone.

Well now I guess it's back to work thinking up and writing about new matters in the diary every day. It was nice to have a break just answering questions for 6 days. Hey I guess the diary has become a streak in itself. Let's see, the diary started on May 15, 2006, so that's hmmm....17 + 30 + 31 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 30 + 31 = 231 days in 2006, 365 in 2007, 366 in 2008, and 31 + 28 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 10 = 222 in 2009 so far. 231 + 365 + 366 + 222 = a total of 1,184 days. Whew! -30-

Sunday, August 09, 2009 10:24 AM - Streak Interview - Part 5 of 6

Geoffrey AE4RV: Did you ever use a bug (in the streak)?

K3WWP: No, I've only used a bug for a very few QSO's back in the 1960's. Now it would take intensive training to use one again as my mind and fingers are solidly trained in the use of a keyer with its automatic dashes versus the manual dashes of a bug.

Geo N1EAV: Seeing that there really are no set rules to your streak, would the streak be over if, lets say, you had to have some kind of surgery or something that kept you from your station over a couple days. Or maybe just radio blackout due to conditions. Perhaps something weather related could keep you off the air. There's probably any number of things out of your control that could keep you from making a qso.

K3WWP: I must reiterate that you folks really come up with the intriguing (and tough) questions. I suppose if you consider what the streak means now, and that is a showpiece that demonstrates that CW is an extremely efficient and still very useful mode even with my very simple setup, there is one answer, while considering it differently, there are other answers. In the first case, if I was completely 100% unable to be on the air some day between 0000Z and 2400Z, that would not disprove in any way how efficient CW is, and shouldn't affect the streak although it obviously should be noted as a gap in the streak. If simply considering the number of consecutive days such a QSO was made, obviously that would definitely end the streak and a new one would have to be started. When Lou Gehrig couldn't play any longer because of what is now known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease", his playing streak was over, period. It's not an easy thing to decide, and as Geo states further on in his email, it would be interesting to see what you, my diary readers think on the matter. You cleared up a different matter about the streak when in a previous mini-poll you told me it would be perfectly OK to make a schedule with someone to continue the streak, even though personally I don't think that is right. Anyone can work a neighbor in town any day he wishes which doesn't prove anything about the greatness of CW.

Ed KB3SZZ: I would love to know something about your technique for snagging QSOs. Is there a particularly good place to position your call when CQing, relative to other ops?

K3WWP: I've answered that before in one of my Keynote QRP columns, I believe. Briefly, I tend to stray not too far from activity on a ham band. If someone is tuning across a wide empty spot in a band, they may tune very quickly and tune right past a weak QRP signal. Whereas if you stay within a few kHz of other activity, tuning rates slow down as that other activity is examined, and it may be easier for your QRP signal to be heard. If a band is totally unoccupied, you don't have that choice. Then I would call CQ near commonly used frequencies like the QRP or FISTS frequencies.

KB3SZZ: Do you usually do a lot more answering of CQs, rather than CQing yourself?

K3WWP: I touched on that before in the interview. I prefer calling CQ myself when I'm just looking for an ordinary QSO. I find it exciting to never know who I'm going to work in advance. If you answer someone else's CQ, you know who you are working, obviously. That is fine also, if you hear an old friend, new state, rare country, etc. calling CQ. Several of my most memorable QSO's I mentioned in an earlier answer came from CQ's. The VK6HQ QSO's for example. Also it was a thrill to have TA3D from rather rare Turkey answer my 30M CQ one time. It's thrilling to have prominent contesters that I admire like K4BAI and K4LTA for two examples, answer my CQ (outside a contest, I mean). There are many other QSO's I could mention that are more thrilling for me because they answered my minimal QRP CQ.

KB3SZZ: Regarding DX contacts, will operators from other countries avoid slow speed QSOs due to a fear of changing band conditions, or is someone like me just as likely to make a contact as anyone who can copy the callsign and answer their CQ?

K3WWP: We're getting more into everyday operating questions now and straying from the streak, but Ed is a new ham, and we've become friends via email and an on-air QSO, so I'm going to answer this as the last question in the interview. I'll still do my best to answer any other questions you may have on any topic in the future though.

I believe that the majority of DX operators will work anyone at any speed who calls them. This is true especially in contests and especially near the end of contests when every additional QSO ups their score. Now if a DX station is involved in working a big pile-up, although he may be willing to answer a slow operator, you can be assured that other ops waiting to work the DX will become impatient. Therefore if you are a slow operator be sure to send your info as briefly as possible. If the exchange is just RST for a DXpedition, just send TU 599 and nothing else. I always believe in being polite, hence the TU. If it's a contest, and the exchange is RST and a serial number send only TU 599 001 or just TU 599 1. You'll gain respect from the DX station and those waiting to work him as well.

Tomorrow I get to ask myself a question or two about the streak covering something that hasn't been asked by anyone else. -30-

Saturday, August 08, 2009 6:27 PM - Streak Interview - Part 4 of 6.

Yes, 6 parts now thanks to additional very good questions received since the interview started.

Baltasar EA8BVP: Do you think to put another wire antennas to compare the results or to get better results in your QRP operation? I don't know if the question is correctly build because of my low English level.

K3WWP: First of all Baltasar, your English may not be perfect, but it is a lot closer than way too many people here in the USA. But that's another story. I really don't have the room on this small lot to actually do any antenna experimenting, and I don't really think I need to because what I have seems to work so well. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." Oh I have fantasized what it would be like to have even better bigger antennas, especially for my contesting work. I know, without meaning to brag, that I am very skilled at contesting, and could do much better with a better equipped station.

Dave AA7EE: It is to be expected that without using QRO and gain antennas you will not be able to contact every single station you hear. Do you find that there are many stations you call that don't reply to your call, or have you developed something of a sense for who will be able to hear you? In other words, do you have a pretty good idea in advance, whether a station will come back to you or not?

K3WWP: Wow, you folks really come up with some great questions. Every one has been a real gem, as were Tom's in the first part of this interview. I like to get a lot of my streak QSO's via calling CQ. That way if someone answers me, I'm pretty sure they are copying me well. Also in contests, I can be pretty sure that when I answer a CQ, if there is not a pile-up, I will be answered since contest ops are the best CW ops in the world and have the best receiving equipment. That leaves the situation when I answer someone's CQ outside of a contest. I had never thought about it, but I guess I have pretty much learned over the years who will hear me and who won't. There's no hard and fast rule, but generally if a station is strong here, I should be strong there as well, and a QSO will result. That doesn't always work, of course. He could be listening off frequency and not hear me, or have a very high local noise level, or any number of other factors. The converse is true also. Sometimes I will answer a very weak station not really expecting an answer, but he will come back to me and give me a 579 report or better. On the whole I probably get about a 75% or better response when I call someone outside a contest. If I'm not getting at least a 90% response in contests, I generally QRT and try later since I hate to slow contesters down by making them struggle to copy my signals with many repeats.

Oh, and incidentally even QRO stations with big antennas can't work everyone they hear.

AA7EE: Do you think you will ever run QRO again?

K3WWP: Actually going by the definition of QRP at the time, I've run very little QRO. When equipment wasn't all that good, relatively speaking, QRP was defined as 100 watts or less INPUT to the final amplifier. So my 75 watts input then was well within the QRP definition. I don't know offhand just when the definition was changed to 5 watts OUTPUT for QRP, but depending on when that happened, I could have quite a few or even a lot of QRO QSO's with my various powers from 10 to 75 watts I used in the 70's and 80's. However since 1992 when I returned to the air after a period of inactivity, I have been strictly QRP at 5 watts or less output power, and I have no need to ever run more power than that again, unless as one of my web site poll choices says this month - "In an emergency situation". Actually to be completely honest, I have had 3 or 4 QRO QSO's since 1992. A couple just to make sure my TS-570 would work at higher power levels if ever needed in an emergency, and one accidental one on 6 meters when I neglected to set the power to 5 watts for all 3 6 meter segments on my TS-480SAT rig. In case my answer got lost in all that wordiness, NO, I will never run QRO again except possibly in an emergency.

AA7EE: Do you have any interest in other modes, or is it CW all the way for you? Are there any other modes you think you might want to try in the future?

K3WWP: Oh boy, an easy question with no explanation needed. I'm CW only and always will be.

AA7EE: How much longer are you going to continue with the streak?

K3WWP: Until something completely beyond my control brings it to an end. Illness, terrorist attack, total power outage, severe geomagnetic storm lasting a whole day or longer, death, our government outlawing ham radio, etc.

K3WWP: AA7EE also asked what seems to have been the overall most popular question about any time the streak came close to ending. I'm sure there was one other reader email asking a question or two, but I can't seem to find it now. Possibly it contained other material and after I took care of that material, I deleted it before getting to the question(s). I remember one asked something similar to Baltasar's question, but asked if I would now try a vertical antenna to see how it compared to a simple wire antenna. If you asked that question and possibly another, please email me again with the question(s) so I can give you proper credit. Thanks. Anyway, no I won't be changing antennas as I said to Baltasar. With my house and lot, what I have now is about all I can fit in here.

The question list grew since I decided to divide the interview into 5 parts, so I'm adding an extra part. Tomorrow will finish off your questions, then I'll close with a couple of things that haven't been asked by anyone, but I feel should have been. -30-

Friday, August 07, 2009 8:38 AM - Streak Interview - Part 3 of 6.

Now on to the questions submitted by you, my web site visitors.

Carl N5XE: Are all the QSO's from your home location, and, if so, what about the times you were not at home?

K3WWP: As I answered Tom's question, all are from Armstrong county and virtually all the QSO's are from my home. A few were made in 3 QRP ARCI Hoot Owl sprints at portable setups at the QTH of Tom WY3H a couple of miles south of here. Also I operated one CQWW DX contest from my late cousin's QTH a couple miles east of here. Of the over 50,000 QSO's during the streak, I would say about 49,700 came from my home QTH.

N5XE: Also, hope you never got ill, but if so, how did you handle that?

K3WWP: I did have one period of a few days when I stayed at my late cousin's house (separate from the CQWW DX contest) while recovering from a brief non-serious illness. During those days she drove me, or I drove myself into town to get my daily weather readings and my streak QSO. The weather readings, by the way, are an even longer streak going back to January 1, 1960 although I was helped with that by my mother, aunts, and a friend while I went to college, technical school, and worked in Pittsburgh.

Larry W2LJ: Were there any ever times that you thought you might not make a contact due to whatever circumstance and that "This might be the end"?

K3WWP: Not really. I only recall one day during a very severe geomagnetic storm that the bands were virtually dead, but late in the afternoon I did manage to make a very minimal, but good QSO. That was probably the closest the streak ever came to ending. Otherwise, it is normally quite easy to make at least one QSO per day because of the efficiency of Morse Code under all conditions.

W2LJ: What was the lowest power you have ever used to make a streak QSO?

K3WWP: I believe you mean of my overall 50,000 QSO's in the streak, and not the first QSO of each day. Probably the second alternative would be 930 mW when working one of our NAQCC sprints or challenges and the first QSO came in one of those events. Overall, it's easier to answer. 50mW in a QSO with KB4GID in AL, and as far as DX, 60mW in a QSO with P49I in Aruba.

W2LJ: If you had to do it all over again, would you do it again? Any changes you would make?

K3WWP: That's an intriguing question, to be sure. To be honest, I don't know. I guess the best way to look at it is to think how I would react if the streak ended today. Would I start another one? Probably not, knowing the extreme commitment it took to keep this one going. As for the changes, definitely not. It would have to be QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. QRO would be too easy, as would big gain type antennas. And is there any other ham radio mode besides CW? I don't know any.

W2LJ: Any words of advice to someone who might want to emulate you?

K3WWP: One friend of mine (VA3RJ) did emulate me. Oh, there were others also, but let me tell you about him. He did a streak with QRO power, CW, and a simple antenna, but after (I believe) 1,000 days he said it was just too easy and quit. So I would say to get the most satisfaction from such a streak it should be with the same qualifications as mine. Oh, and another friend (N2ESE) started a (QRO/CW) streak the day he got his vanity call, and as far as I know has made a QSO every day with the new call. I think that's neat. I also must say that I've found that it is not really as hard to do as it sounds. Actually getting the QSO doesn't take up all that much time each day except on a few days now and then. But you must be aware that obviously it does take time away from other things and be prepared for that.

Paul N0NBD: Hi John, I have been thinking of a question to submit but after following your writings for a while, I come up short. I already know quite a bit of your life, the "streak", of your fishing, and other activities. I suspect if there were less than a thousand miles between us we could sit in the radio room with a "cup of joe" and shoot the breeze about a lot of things. So lacking a question, I will ride along and await the interview.

K3WWP: I appreciate your comments, Paul. We've gotten to know each other very well primarily by email, and it would be nice to have a visit some day. I know we would if we lived closer together.

Tomorrow the second half of your questions, then the next day, a couple questions not covered that I'd like to ask and answer myself. -30-

Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:34 PM - Streak Interview - Part 2 of 6.

WY3H: Was your streak ever in danger of ending? Elaborate on that.

K3WWP: No, the streak was never really in any danger. Some days now and then took a while to get the QSO, but there was never any frantic last-minute search for a QSO or anything like that. That question was also asked by one of my diary readers, and my elaboration will come in that part of the interview to be aired in a couple days.

WY3H: Were all your QSOs made from Armstrong County?

K3WWP: Yes, every one of the 50,000 plus came from within 3 miles or so of my home QTH at 478 E. High Street in Kittanning where I've lived all my life. As in the previous question I'll have more about this in an answer to a reader's question.

WY3H: What are some of the memorable events in the streak? Your most memorable QSOs for example.

K3WWP: That question could lead to writing a book since there were many. One of my most memorable QSO's came just a few days ago when I worked VK6DXI near Perth Australia which is just about as far away from Kittanning as you can get and still remain on Earth. I've worked Australia many times in the streak, but this QSO was on 40 meters and it came when the sun hadn't yet set here. Both Mirek and I are just about certain it was a long path grey path QSO which would mean my QRP signals travelled over 14,000 miles from here to there. Australia also figures in other memorable streak QSO's. I worked VH6HQ on 30M a couple times. The first time he answered my CQ, I figured it was a Canadian station when I heard the initial V, then after I got VK I thought he must be portable somewhere in North or South America. However he was near Perth Australia. One of the times we worked, shortly after the QSO ended, my phone rang and when I answered, it was VK6HQ calling (VERY) long distance. He wanted to know a bit more about my setup here and we chatted for a few minutes. Another event was working Hawaii on 80 meters not once, but twice, and almost three times in this year's ARRL DX contest. What a thrill to hear KH6MB and a few minutes later KH6LC come back to my call. The QSO's were not all that difficult either. They did involve a few repeats of my info, but both were completed successfully. A further attempt with a third station didn't get beyond K3W??. A mini-streak within the streak is memorable. From November 23, 1999 through February 11, 2000 I made at least one DX QSO each day. Then after missing a day, I started again on February 13 and continued through July 15th. The second streak was 154 days long which made 235 out of 236 days I worked some DX. More about the overall streak and the mini DX streak can be found on my web site. I must also mention my first Japanese QSO with JA3ZOH. It took a long time to get that first Japan QSO, but now I have around 180 or so. The first QSO with Asiatic Russia was also memorable, as were several DXpedition QSO's where I had to break big pileups to get the QSO, but I'd better quit here and let you ask your next question.

WY3H: Tell us about the web site.

K3WWP: It was initially started in 1996 to describe the history of how WA8EOH and I started the CW County Hunters Net back in 1966, and slowly evolved into a site that promotes the use of Morse Code and QRP on the ham bands with many features designed to encourage such use by showing examples of how efficient Morse is, even with my very minimal QRP and simple wire antennas setup. I think that seeing what I've done in contests, DXing, awards, the streak and so forth does encourage other hams to try Morse. In fact, I know it does because I've had countless hams mention that my site led them to (or back to) CW. I've had almost a half million visits to the site over the 14 years of its existence. A URL change a few months ago forced on me by Alltel/Windstream has reduced the average daily number of visits, but there are still just under 100 per day. Another indication that CW is not dead, as proclaimed by some who don't know any better.

WY3H: I think your readers would like to know a bit more about your professional work life. I know you worked in radio broadcasting. Tell us more about that?

K3WWP: Originally I had planned on a career in Astronomy, but got discouraged because of the very non-astronomical curriculum I had to take in college to even get close to working in Astronomy. I switched to a study of electronics at Gateway Tech in Pittsburgh thinking about a career in that field. While studying there it seemed a career in broadcast engineering would fit me very well. I got my commercial FCC First Class Radiotelephone License and after a very brief stint training for our local emergency operations center, my application to WPIT in Pittsburgh was accepted and I became an engineer there. My job eventually evolved to the point where I did just about everything at the station except being a salesman. I did on-air work which at first involved just giving station breaks, then newscasts, and finally some DJ work with country music and religious music. I also assisted in the production of spots, religious shows, and ethnic shows. I worked with the office computers helping with program scheduling, billing and the like. It was a very enjoyable career not only because of the variety of work I did there, but because the staff were all very wonderful people to work with all the way up to the manager. My work there could consist of another whole interview, but I'll close here for now.

Thanks Tom, for the opportunity to answer those wondeful, pertinent questions. In the next part of this interview, I'll field the questions I alluded to earlier that came from diary readers. -30-

Wednesday, August 05, 2009 1:55 PM - Streak Interview - Part 1 of 6.

The interviewer for the first two parts of the interview is Tom WY3H, former newspaper reporter, good friend, and president of the NAQCC.

WY3H: How did you get startted in ham radio and when?

K3WWP: It was back in the early 1960's when I tuned away from our local Pittsburgh station KDKA on the AM BC band and heard WHO in Des Moines, IA. I thought it was wonderful you could hear a radio station from so far away. I tuned around some more and heard other distant AM stations. Then I wondered if I could get even more distant stations if I hooked up some kind of long wire antenna to the radio. I did so, connecting it to the tuning capacitor where I saw the internal loop antenna was connected. Not knowing much about radio at that time, perhaps I connected it to the oscillator section of the capacitor. Anyway, somehow that changed to tuning range of the radio and I heard Radio Switzerland as my first ever short wave station. After hearing other SW BC stations, then I heard this station with someone talking as if he was on the phone who identified himself as W3CYG. I later found out he was a local amateur radio operator named Red Cunningham. I didn't think much about it at the time, but some time later a friend of mine, Larry Hooks, was showing off his CB radio to me, and mentioned he was going to get his amateur radio license. That sounded intriguing to me, so I decided to try to get my license also. Of course then you had to learn Morse Code to get all classes of license except Technician. So he and I studied the code together, and I was immediately fascinated by it. I have always been interested in things that had a definite construction to them. For example, I always liked subjects like Math and Physics because there were seemingly no grey areas to them as in English and History. Two plus two equalled four - period. In History events could be interpreted in many different ways. In Morse code a dot and dash was an A - period. In voice, there were many different accents and other variables. Morse code was EXACT, and that has always appealed to me. When we were ready, Larry and I went to the aforementioned W3CYG to take our Novice exam. I remember that session as clearly as if it happened yesterday although it actually was 46 years ago now. Red was fooling around with the key sending a few letters just to let us get familiar with his sending and the sound of his code practice oscillator and to relax a bit. Suddenly I caught him sending R U READY? Larry didn't catch it, but I did and said I was ready. Red sent us the 5 WPM code test which we both passed, then gave us the written part of the test which we also both passed. The info was then sent off to the FCC, and in a couple weeks Larry was KN3WWW and I was KN3WWP. That was April 3, 1963 and the rest is history.

WY3H: How did you learn CW? What method did you use?

K3WWP: I honestly don't remember. It just more or less came to me like learning to talk when I was a couple years old. I know there wasn't any formal training using code tapes. I listened to the W1AW code practice sessions, but that was more to increase my copying speed after I initially learned the code. Also the increase in speed just came naturally as well, and it wasn't too long before I worked my way up to the point of getting the ARRL code proficiency awards through 35 words per minute. Unfortunately the dates on the little endorsement stickers on the award have faded away so I can't say exactly when I reached each speed level.

WY3H; You operate CW exclusively, why?

K3WWP: I think I have to refer back to my previous answer where I said CW is an exact 'science' and I like that sort of thing. Also I don't like change all that much. When I find something good, I stick with it with no need to experiment with other things. I also like CW because it requires something the other ham radio modes don't - mental exercise. You don't really have to use your brain to use voice on the ham bands, and you can tell that quickly by simply listening to some of the things that are on the voice portions of the ham bands. All the other digital modes use a computer or computer chip to do the thinking. Morse Code is the only mode that requires you to use your brain to interpret what is being said. I like that, as mental exercise is important in keeping a healthy brain.

WY3H: What is your favorite key? (straight key, Iambic, etc.)

K3WWP: Most of the time I use a CMOS Super Keyer Mark II that I built from a kit in the mid 1990's. The paddle that operates it is a Bencher that was given to me by my friend Mike KC2EGL a couple years ago. Before that, the paddle was a homebrew one made from two straight keys mounted bottom to bottom and used upright in a standard paddle configuration. The keyer is set for Iambic operation or as it is sometime called, "squeeze keying". When I do use a straight key (in our NAQCC sprints, for example), my current favorites are two homebrew keys I made for use in our annual NAQCC homebrew key sprints each November.

WY3H: Your current streak started 15 years ago, but just how?

K3WWP: My friend Eric KB3BFQ who used to live next door and I were very interested in sports at that time (and still are to some extent). Of course sports deals a lot with various kinds of records among which are streaks such as Lou Gehrig's 2130 consecutive games played streak subsequently broken by Cal Ripken who played 2632 games in a row before he missed a game. When Eric and were talking about such streaks in my shack, he wondered how streaks could be applied to ham radio and thought of the idea of seeing how many days in a row it would be possible to make a contact with my simple equipment. I still haven't found a definite answer other than to say it is at least 5,479 days and counting.

Tomorrow - Part 2. -30-

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 6:04 PM - I decided today I needed a break from all the fuss about the streak and also my NAQCC work. So I took one the best way I know how. I went fishing. I wasn't really expecting to catch anything since the river was still fairly high and muddy, but I knew it would be nice to just sit there and enjoy some warm and humid weather of which we haven't had much this summer. Well the fish must have wanted to make it a little more interesting than that. I caught 2 14 inch suckers and a 22 inch carpsucker to up my total to 53 for the year and remain around 20 below average. I might even make it to 100 if I can get the time and the fish agree like they did today.

I've just put the finishing touches on the streak interview, and it will be posted in parts over the next 5 days here in the diary. I'm delighted by the wonderful and intriguing questions you, my readers, have come up with to complement the great questions Tom WY3H asked in the first half of the interview. -30-

Monday, August 03, 2009 7:13 PM - In less than an hour now, I plan to get on around 7.040 MHz and call CQ to get my daily QSO for August 4 which will complete the 15 years of the streak. If that doesn't work, I'll tune around 40, 30, and 20 to try to get a QSO.

I'm guessing that I will be able to get a QSO, since I've done it the previous 5,478 days with no problem. If so, I've got the interviews ready for August 5, 6, 7, and 8 here in the diary. There's still time for you to sneak in a last minute question though. If you have one, send it via the email link above, and I'll tack it on if it is something not already covered or give you credit if it duplicates an already received question.

There is one question that I will ask myself on the 9th if it is not suggested by anyone. One question that I think is very important, and needs an answer.

Well, enough teasing promos for now. I've got more work to get done before 0000Z comes along.

ADDENDUM - I made it! A QSO with Dave WD4EKB at 0006Z on the 4th closes out 15 years of the streak, and tomorrow I start on the 16th year. -30-

Sunday, August 02, 2009 4:55 PM - I really love those North American QSO Parties in January and August. I never seem to do as well in the August one as I do in January, but both are at the top of the list of my favorite contests along with our monthly NAQCC sprints. In fact those are about the only contests lately in which I put out a serious effort along with the big DX type contests like ARRL DX Test, CQWW DX Test, CQWW WPX Contest, and the like.

It's fun going head to head with the best contesters in the World, and I get a special thrill out of doing it with my minimal station setup here. Of course I'll never win the top prize or even come close, but that doesn't matter.

Yesterday I made 239 QSO's and 95 multipliers in the NAQP. My tops for an August NAQP are something like 280 QSO's and 125 multipliers, but that was for a full 10 hours participation. Yesterday I did just a little under 7 hours. So had I done the extra 3 hours I might have topped my personal best for an August NAQP.

With the streak about to reach the 15 year mark in a couple days, I reached one milestone when I made my 34th QSO in the NAQP with K0JPL. That was QSO #50,000 in the streak. It was kind of nice it was a QSO with Paul who is an old contesting friend from the 1960's.

I also worked what seemed to me without checking a lot of stations I never worked before which should put me over the 15,000 mark of different stations worked during the streak. I'll check that later on today or tomorrow. UPDATE: W9TTT was unique station #15,000 at 0048Z 8/2/09 in the NAQP.

I want to thank those of you who sent in questions about the streak for my interview. My, what intriguing questions you came up with that neither Tom WY3H nor I ever even thought about. There's still time to send in your question(s). I plan to air the interview with Tom in two parts on August 5th and 6th, and then your questions in two parts on August 7th and 8th. Or if I get still more questions from you, I may divide that into 3 or more parts.

These are really exciting times for me with the streak and my fishing exploits of late. -30-

Saturday, August 01, 2009 8:48 AM - I just finished entering the July weather data into my Excel spreadsheet than contains all my weather data since 1959. I thought you'd like to hear some facts about the past month's weather.

Here are the monthly records set for the month:

Lowest Mean Temperature: 68.5 degrees
Lowest Mean High Temperature: 79.7
Lowest Cooling Degree Days: 125
Lowest Seasonal Cooling Degree Days (2009 to date): 284
Lowest Monthly Maximum Temperature: 88 (tie w/1996 + other years)
Lowest Highest Daily Average Temperature: 76 (tie w/1971)
Lowest Highest Minimum Temperature: 66 (tie w/1960)

Now the daily records set during the month:

Minimum: 46 - 14th
Lowest Maximum: 72 - 17th, 70 - 18th
Lowest Mean: 62 - 18th
Least Daily Range: 13 - 17th
Departure from Normal: -11 - 18th

For 50 years of records, that's an abnormally high number of records for one month, and every one a COLD related record.

Perhaps for the non-meteorologically minded, a brief explanation of a couple of the records that may sound ambiguous.

Cooling Degree Days - The number of degrees a daily mean temperature is above 65 degrees. For example on one of the two warmer days of the month - the 28th, the minimum temperature was 62 and the maximum 87 for a mean of 75 (62+87/2 = 74.5 rounded off to 75). Then 75 - 65 = 10, the number of Cooling Degree Days for that date. To get a monthly total, all the 31 individual days are added up. Although they don't figure in any records this month, Heating Degree Days are similar but are figured as negative departures from 65. Both are used in the HVAC industry to figure cost of heating a home in winter and cooling it in summer.

The Lowest Highest etc. records sound funny when read or spoken, but they go something like this. Each month has an overall maximum or high temperature. This month it was 88 degrees. Compared to all other July's, that was the lowest monthly maximum temperature along with that of 1996 and other years in between 1996 and 2009.

Finally Least Daily Range - Daily Range is the difference between the minimum and maximum temperature for the day. The 17th had a minimum of 59 and a maximum of 72 for a DR of 13 degrees. Usually such days with a narrow range of temperature are the dark, gloomy, rainy days. The 13 degree range was the narrowest of any July 17th. Usually the lowest DR's come in December when the sun has little heating power in the Northern Hemisphere. Then days with a range of as low as 2 or 3 degrees are fairly common. During the summer, days with less than 12-15 degrees or so are very uncommon, although now and then you do get a very low figure. The record here for July is 4 degrees set in 1978, 1992 and other year(s) in between. If a record occurs in 3 or more separate years, my printout only shows the earliest and latest year with a + sign in between. That's why I use the term 'other years' in some of the records above.

The comparable record to LDR is GDR or greatest daily range. Normally the extremes of GDR occur in April, May, and October when the sun is still high enough in the sky to provide substantial heating during the day while the crystal clear nights quickly allow that heat to radiate away. Daily ranges of 50 degrees and a little more occur often under those conditions. The record here is 53 degrees in April of 1985.

And that's the end of today's class in Meteorology 101. HI. I hope you found it as interesting as I did when I first got interested in meteorology in the late 1950's. -30-

Friday, July 31, 2009 9:48 PM - I actually had a little extra time today so I did something I haven't done in a while. I checked some of the links in the Links section of my web site today. I finished about 3 or 4 pages of them. I still wonder why some folks start up web sites and then kind of abandon them after a short time and they just sit there until their host cancels the site. Quite a few of the links in the Personal Pages section of my links were that way, and I just deleted the link in that case.

Fishing slowed down today. I only got one 13 inch sucker, but that was #50 for the year and pushed me a bit closer to normal, but I'm still about 18 below average.

Speaking of averages, I'm looking forward to entering my July weather records into Excel to see if this July was the coldest and/or wettest July since I started keeping records in 1960. I'll probably do that later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Right now I've got to get going on doing some more of the regular end of month/beginning of month work. -30-

Thursday, July 30, 2009 8:29 PM - Another good fishing day today. No double catches like last night, but I caught my biggest carpsucker ever today (actually a tie for the biggest) at 24 inches. And what a fighter he was! Somewhat unusual for a carpsucker and until I saw him, I thought I had a big carp or maybe even a big catfish on the line. This fellow did a great impression of a 30 inch or so carp, and I was surprised when I finally saw him after about a 15 minute fight. He fought as good as the 27 inch carp last night if not better although he wasn't as good when I got him near shore and he surrendered peaceably. So now I'm above an average of 1 fish per trip with 49 fish in 46 trips. I'm 13 above last year at this time but still about 20 fish below normal for the end of July. However conditions have been good lately as you can tell, so I may fight my way back to average or hopefully even better. Traditionally though, the first week or 10 days of August have been slow for some reason.

40 meters was changeable tonight. I had a solid 2XQRP QSO with KT4FJ in VA for almost 10 minutes then his sigs dropped steadily from s9 down to nil in less than a minute and never did come back up. 30 meters had quite a few signals on it for a change. 20 meters had an Asiatic Russian (from the signal strength and slight flutter) giving his name as Alex. Probably UA0AZ, but I didn't wait to find out since I've worked him so many times before.

I've been working on the interview about the 15 years of my streak with Tom WY3H. I've also gotten a couple very interesting questions from Carl N5XE that I'll be answering probably in a second "interview" unless his are the only questions submitted by you, my readers. There is still time for you to ask your questions. I'm sure, like Carl, you have some unique ones that neither Tom nor I could come up with ourselves. Email them to me via the link above if you do. -30-

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 10:21 PM - This is a week for unusual achievements. Following my VK6 40M LP QSO before sunset on Saturday evening, I had an unusual fishing experience this evening I've only had happen once before.

We had a torrential downpour late this afternoon and early evening that dumped 1.58 inches of rain with about 1 inch of that in less than a half hour. That really turned on the storm sewers, so as soon as it stopped raining hard, I headed to the river. The outflow was tremendous, much more than 1.58 inches of rain could account for, so it must have rained even harder at the source of the creek that also flows into the sewer.

I was expecting to have another (hopefully better) drum frenzy like I had a few days ago. Actually the outflow resembled the time I caught those 23 drums one day. I baited up my spinning reel with a nightcrawler and tossed it out into the boundary between the muddy and clearer water which seems to be the best place in such a situation. Then I put peanut butter bread on my bait casting reel and tossed it out to another spot in the boundary. So I was ready for either drum or carp, I hoped.

Well the carp got mixed up and hit my nightcrawler instead so I had a nice battle with him on the light line on the spinning reel. The pole that Bruce gave me earlier this year and the new reel I bought for it about a month ago worked beautifully and I landed the carp without too much difficulty although he did put up a pretty good fight for a 24 incher.

I baited up the spinning reel with another nightcrawler, and next came a 15 inch drum followed by a 12 inch drum a few minutes later. I also had another drum on, but he wasn't hooked solidly and got off.

All of that was just preliminary to the next event. A few minutes after the last drum, a carp (I know how they bite before I ever see or land them) took off in the typical frantic way with my peanut butter bread on the bait casting reel. I could tell he was a good size one by the initial feel. Wouldn't you know it, not even a half minute later as I was just getting the battle established with the carp, my spinning reel pole takes a quick strong dip down toward the water. I pick it up, and I've got something pretty big on it. Now I'm standing there with one pole in each hand with a big fish on each. I put the spinning reel between my legs and concentrated on the bait casting reel. The fish himself seemed to be keeping the tension on the spinning reel. From now on I'll just call the bait casting #1 and the other #2. I saw #1 surface quite a ways out and he was indeed pretty big as I thought. As I'm fighting him, I see #2 get slack on the line and wondered if that one got off. Nope, there he pulls on it again. Slowly I'm getting #1 in toward shore, kind of holding #2 in my right hand while turning the handle on #1 also with the right hand. After a struggle close to shore, #1 tired a bit and I got him up on shore by laying #1 pole on the ground and holding it with my knee while I pulled #1 fish up with my right hand while holding #2 pole with the left hand. Still in the same position I got the hook out of #1, took a quick measure with my marked pole, found he was 28 inches, and turned my efforts to #2 who was now quite a ways out in the river and still going. I managed to get him turned and reeled in a ways. Then I noticed the first carp was still 'beached' so I walked over and pushed him back in the water. The second carp (I figured earlier he had to be a carp also from the way he was acting) put up a good fight, and I got him in close to shore a couple times when he got his second and third wind and went out toward the middle of the river again. Finally I managed to get him a few feet from shore, and was more careful with him, since that's when they can throw a hook or break a line more easily. I landed him finally, and measured him (her?) at 27 inches. The hook was so firmly imbedded, I never could get it out and had to leave it in, so there was no way that hook was coming out while I was fighting with #1. -30-

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:26 PM - Only a few more days to go now and the 'streak' will be 15 years old. If I work someone each day now, and then on August 4, that will complete 15 years of my QSO-A-Day routine. I'm planning a special interview type diary entry about the streak when that happens. My friend and fellow NAQCC officer Tom WY3H, former newspaper reporter/columnist will be asking the questions. I'm sure he'll come up with some good questions, but I'd also be interested in answering YOUR questions about the streak. If I get enough questions from YOU, and they are different from the ones Tom asks, I will make them into a separate second interview. And even if the questions are the same, I'll show my appreciation by mentioning you here in the diary. Use the Email diary feedback link above for your questions.

Once again this evening, a demonstration that although they sound like it, the bands are not really 'dead', just not being used. I worked Chas AI4OT in Arlington, VA who answered my CQ. He was running just 3 watts to a mobile whip outside his apartment window on the 3rd floor of a building. His signal was over S9 for a solid 12 minute QSO which could have gone on still longer. He gave me a S9 report also and proved by the content that he was indeed copying me as solid as I was copying him. The moral? Don't go by what you think, what others say, what propagation numbers indicate, what the sunspot number is, when it comes to ham radio. Just get on the air and do it. You will make QSO's if like minded individuals do the same thing. I guarantee it. -30-

Monday, July 27, 2009 8:02 PM - I'm writing this while being a dog-sitter. Yep, Joe is spending the evening with me while Nancy is having a meeting at her house. He's being pretty good about it, although he's a little restless being in somewhat strange surroundings. He's been here a few times before, but this is only the second extended stay. He's pretty much stuck by the door watching for Bruce to come back. Bruce was going to stay here also, but he had to go somewhere. Joe didn't take any time at all to get in the swing when I made myself my mid-evening snack though. He followed me to the kitchen and watched me all the time I was preparing the turkey sandwich, and when I came back in the parlor to eat it, he watched me eagerly until I gave him a few bites.

I seem to be getting more feedback on the diary lately than ever despite the fact my visitors are still down after the Alltel/Windstream debacle a few months ago. Let me share some more of the feedback with you now.

Here are some excerpts from an email from John N8ZYA. "Hello John, I enjoyed reading about your DX contact and the proper use of the Internet. It sure hits home here. I use Microsoft Outlook for my logging program just so I can "cut and paste e-mails and pictures" like this. As you say....even without a card, you're sure the other guy heard you!.....Yesterday I watched the International Space Station pass overhead here and mentioned it on the local 2 meter net. It sure brought out the viewers because most had not realized it was so visible to the naked eye. It was a perfect shot right up the Kanawha River above the state capitol building. On another note...I've really enjoyed the (NAQCC) "slow code net"....sure I can send at a comfortable speed but it's fun to hear other NAQCC members getting the hand of CW.....nothing like it. Karl is doing a great job with this! I purposely mentioned the NAQCC club slow net to the ISS viewers......The entire post is really thanks to the club....I enjoy the NAQCC club the very best of all."

It's wonderful to have members like John in the NAQCC. We certainly appreciate his dedication to the club. The post he mentions is on his web site "blog". You can Bing 'N8ZYA blog' to get to it.

Geoffrey AE4RV writes more on Apollo and the space program in general, "John, Years ago I read that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter would finally have the optical resolution necessary to view the Apollo landing sites. It has finally happened. (See) http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html
One image even shows foot trails between the Apollo 14 Descent Module and the scientific instruments package. I can't wait for the Apollo 12 pictures - I wonder if the Surveyor lander will be visible?
In the near future, the LRO will be able to take even better pictures as it settles in to it's planned, lower altitude orbit. Hopefully we'll see the Lunar Rover tracks of the J Missions as well. This is very historic!
Another item to share - Did you know that there is an excellent Lunar Lander flight sim? I've been playing on and off for a few years and it looks like it's about to get a nice upgrade: http://eaglelander3d.com/
Congrats on Australia yesterday! Been a long time since I had that continent in my log."

I haven't had time to check out the links, but I have seen some of the LRO pictures briefly. I definitely want to try out that LL flight simulator when (if) I get time. Thanks Geoffrey.

Regular contributor Paul N0NBD writes, "Hello John, I have not written for a while but today's comments about the fishing stories and Joe reminded me of how much I enjoy the daily peek into your life. I have been off this week and between painting the living room I have had a few fishing trips. I even stayed at Big Hill Lake two nights and did some fishing. The fish seem sluggish but I caught several feisty bluegills in the 8 inch range. Not much else here but back to work on Monday. Have a good one!"

Bob WA6GFR sent a couple ideas for future polls which I'm not going to reveal here. They are intriguing, but may be hard to work into an actual poll without a good deal of tweaking.

Joe has settled in quite good now. Instead of being glued to the door, he's exploring the house a bit, and kind of following on my heels as I go into other rooms for something or other. He also rolled over for a belly rub which is one of his favorite things to do, but it took him quite a while over here before he did so. I guess Nancy's meeting should be over before long now and Joe can go back to more familiar surroundings. I enjoyed his company. -30-

Sunday, July 26, 2009 7:33 PM - Those of you who know me well, or follow my comments here in the diary know how I feel about the Internet and Ham Radio. For those who may not know, I hate the way many folks substitute Internet chat rooms, email reflectors, and the like for ham radio communications. If you want to just talk to someone, fire up the rig, and grab your key and talk to your heart's content. Now the Internet does have some important uses for ham radio. You can look up a ham's address for free on the Internet instead of having to invest in a CD/DVD/printed database of ham addresses. You can check the condition of the ionosphere immediately via the Internet. You can basically get a wealth of information immediately and free to help you with your ham radio hobby. But don't do as some clubs seem to be urging their members to do - that is communicate via the Internet. That's kind of a soapbox preamble to one other important thing the Internet can help with. Instant verification of a QSO in one way or another. The two main ways are eQSL and LotW, but there is another way I'm going to talk about now.

While it is not an official verification, you can find a ham's email address on the Internet, and send him an email about a QSO you just had to make sure it was a legitimate QSO or to exchange some bit of info that was missed in the on-air QSO (NOT contest exchange info though).

I did that in regards to last night's QSO with VK6DXI. There was a bit of doubt in my mind that I actually did work Western Australia at that time of day on 40M, and I wanted to be sure. So I sent the following email to VK6DXI:

From: John H. Shannon 
To: mirelec__*__@__*__singnet.com.sg 
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2009 9:28 AM
Subject: 40M K3WWP QSO

Hello Mirek,

Working you on 40M (7/26/09 0007Z in the IOTA contest) was a very 
exciting QSO for me. I've made 50,000+ QSO's using 5 watts output into 
simple wire antennas, but this is the first time I've worked Western 
Australia at this time of day here (just before sunset) on 40M. I have 
done it on 30M a few times before. My antenna is an attic random wire.

I'm just checking to be sure it is a legitimate QSO and it was really you 
I worked there in Western Australia. If so, I'll probably get a QSL off, 
to you with a GS or 2 to confirm this QSO. 

I see from your QRZ bio that you are quite a DXpeditioner, so I have no 
doubt you have the skill to copy my minimal QRP signals.

73 - John, K3WWP - 100% CW & QRP using simple wire antennas.
I altered his email address to hopefully prevent spambots from harvesting it.

Shortly after the IOTA contest ended I received this reply from Mirek:
From: "M. Rozbicki" <mirelec@singnet.com.sg>
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2009 11:45 AM
To: "John H. Shannon" <johnshan@windstream.net>
Subject: Re: 40M K3WWP QSO

Hello John,

Thanks  for the e-mail and the QSO. 
It is exciting to know that you used only 5 watt QRP radio with antenna 
in attic. This is unbelievable. I just had a look at the sun rise and set 
It is probably the best time for the Long Path QSO. So considering that 
it was a long path qso, It was really really good. See attached picture.
I have a good take off point for the Long Path towards USA. Ground is 
sloping all the way towards West. No major obstacles towards Indian 
Ocean. My shack is some 50 km from the coast..I use a simple quarter wave 
vertical, with 4 raised radials (sometimes two, when kangaroos are 
around, hi). I have a small shack in the bush, as no antennas are allowed 
in my suburb. One good thing about it is that I do not have man made 
noise. It is a very quiet location.

Our QSO was legitimate and you are in the log !. 

I have just came back from the shack to the house and found your e-mail.

73 and cuagn on the bands.

Zone 29 
Western Australia
While not an official verification, I now have no doubt that I worked VK6DXI thanks to the Internet. I will definitely be sending for a QSL for this QSO. Oh, and here's the picture that Mirek sent of the sunrise/sunset line or grey line at the time of our QSO.
pix_diary_20090726_01 (32K)

Saturday, July 25, 2009 7:54 PM - I was going to let the next paragraph stand as my entry for today, but then I took time out at 0000Z to get my daily QSO before posting this. I made two QSO's and the second of the two has to rank near the top of the 71,000 QSO's I've made over the years as one of my best, and in future will be one of my most memorable. In the IOTA contest I was tuning around on 40M and heard VK6DXI calling CQ. Remembering that I had worked Western Australia a few times on 30M around sunset here, I figured I'd give him a try since he was about the same strength as the 30M stations a few years ago. He came back with WW? or something like that. I wasn't copying him solidly. So I sent my call a couple more times and he came back with K3WW?. A few more times and he got the P and sent his exchange. I sent mine - 599 2 as my second QSO. I had to repeat the 2 five or six times, but finally qot a QSL TU from him. I don't get too excited about QSO's any more since I know what QRP/CW/simple wire antennas can do, but I admit my hand was shaking and my heart racing a bit for this QSO. It's not even a new band country, but the time of day with the Sun still not having quite set made it special. I'm just getting off an email to Mirek to make sure it was a legitimate QSO and not some pirate or something like that. The quality and strength of the signals were similar to the 30M Western Australia QSO's I've had at that time of day, so on that account, it sounds legit. Now read on for the original content of today's entry.

I don't have much personally to say today, so I'll let this AccuWeather article about 'global warming' be my entry for today. Click here to read it. -30-

Friday, July 24, 2009 9:02 AM - As I said, more Apollo 11 feedback. Glenn K3SWZ: "Re --Apollo 11... At the time I worked for a small company that built "Quartz Crystal Oscillators" We did a crash program for Westinghouse in Baltimore for the camera that went to the Lunar surface... It was a small oscillator that controlled the sync rate of the camera, as I recall.... I was the Sales Engineer on the job. The company was Greenray Industries, Inc. in Mechanicsburg, PA The founder and President was Ray Green, W3UDH.... Before the lid was closed on the little box, all 25 or so employees got to scratch their initials in the case on the inside.. I put my call letters as did all the other hams that worked there..... We followed the same procedure on some other "boxes" that we built for later space flights..... (The company is still there, but under different ownership)"

And feedback on other diary material, etc. Mike N4VBV: "John, Thought you would like to hear that your operating techniques, antenna setup, QSO streak, and CW use was discussed at our recent club meeting (Sumter Amateur Radio Association). Al, WS4P, gave a presentation on QRP and small QRP rigs. He also mentioned (and listed on a handout) the NAQCC. His demo rigs included Small Wonder Labs' Rock Mite, SW 40, and PSK-31 rigs as well as an FT-817. Everything was mentioned in complimentary terms to demonstrate how QRP, and especially QRP CW, could make a great bunch of contacts. Keep up the great work, and the fishing stories are always interesting (as well as Joe)." -30-

Thursday, July 23, 2009 9:18 PM - I had my best fishing day of the year so far today. Finally just decided to forget other things and devote some time to fishing. We had an inch and a third of rain during the night, and I figured that would stir up the fish. It did. I caught 5 drums from 12-17 inches, a 19 inch carpsucker, and a 16 inch sucker.

When I first went to the river, I saw the one sewer was still pouring out muddy water from the rain, and I knew that was a good sign. However someone else had the same idea, so I had to try another place near our amphitheater which is generally a good place to fish also, but usually is occupied. It wasn't today though, so I fished there about 2 hours. That's where I caught the carpsucker. Then I decided I'd go check the sewer again. When I got there, the fellow was just packing up and leaving. I didn't know if that was a good sign or not. It might have meant he wasn't having any luck or just had to leave. At any rate it was still muddy, so I gave a try. It took all of a couple minutes to catch the first drum. I love the way they bite. They just grab the nightcrawler and take off with it, hooking themselves in the process. Kind of like carp with doughball, but the drum don't fool around as much before taking off.

When that happened, I had a flashback to a few years ago at that same sewer with a similar outflow, although then I got there sooner after the rain and the flow was stronger and muddier. At that time, I would throw out to the boundary between the muddy and clearer water, and boom, before long a drum would strike like he was trying to take my pole in the water. That happened 9 times and I had 9 drums in the log before too long. However, I was now out of nightcrawlers. I wasn't going to let that stop me, and I got in my car and went and bought some more and hurried back to the sewer. The drum frenzy was still on, and before it was over, I had 14 more caught for a total of 23 in not all that long a time. Then the water pretty much cleared up and the frenzy died off.

With the quick catch of the first drum today, I wondered if something similar would happen. Well, it did, but to a much smaller and slower extent. Still it was a lot of fun, even though it was only 5 this time with one sucker mixed in on my second pole that had peanut butter bread on it. Now I'm up to almost an average of 1 fish per trip despite all the shutouts so far this year. 42 fish in 43 trips. Still about 20 fish below average at this point in the year though.

I got a little more Apollo 11 feedback that is quite interesting, but I'll save that for tomorrow's entry. -30-

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 8:51 PM - I guess we're never going to have any real good summer weather for more than a day or part of a day at a time this year. Another cool, cloudy, showery day today. I did get a chance to go fishing for an hour and a half and caught a 13 inch sucker. I also picked a couple hundred beans in Ange's garden for him and me. He should be getting home just about now. That means I didn't have to do any garden watering for the whole 8 days he was gone, so I shouldn't complain about the cool, wet weather.

I see the A index was 22 today, so something is going on on the sun or in the ionosphere although the SF is still resting in the 60's. Sigs on the bands this evening seemed quite strong although there wasn't a lot of activity.

To close this entry, some comments about my Apollo 11 'coverage' of the past few entries.

Dennis N1IMW: "Nice job on the Apollo 11 diaries. I remember the time well myself although just 11 years old at the time."

Geoffrey AE4RV: "Oh, Great post today, John. I didn't realize the extent that Schirra and Cronkite did broadcast together. I knew that Cernan was comfortable behind the camera after his NASA duty but am too young to know that about Wally. I've read many books about Apollo and can recommend some if you like. The last one was Digital Apollo which gets quite technical about the technologies involved."

Unfortunately I don't get hardly any time to do any reading here. I used to love it when I had the half hour bus ride in Pittsburgh to and from WPIT. I got in a lot of good reading that way, but now I haven't read a book all the way through in some time now. Perhaps the last one was a re-read of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" a few years ago. I've read that fantastic fantasy story several times along with "The Hobbit". I also read "The Silmarillion" once, but it was not the smooth flowing style of Rings and Hobbit, since it was mostly written by J.R.R.'s son, Christopher after his passing.

Perhaps books would be a good diary topic for some future entries. -30-

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 8:40 PM - I was kind of disappointed in the ending of the Apollo 11 re-broadcast last night. They stopped the broadcast just after Armstrong uttered his famous words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Boom, that was it, nothing further. I was hoping to listen to at least the moonwalk in its entirety, and the lift-off from the moon.

I've got the entire audio portion of the moonwalk on tape here, although not from the NASA channel. It's the audio from the TV coverage of the event. I forget which network now. Although CBS became my favorite when Walter and Wally were the broadcast team, I still listened to the other networks during the early Apollo flights. I especially thought Jules Bergman from ABC was quite good.

Of course the moonwalk came on a Sunday evening starting around 11 PM. However it was originally slated to start later than that, and when I heard of the change, I became very upset. Let me tell you why. I mentioned in an earlier entry that I worked at WPIT at the time. My Sunday schedule ended at 11 PM when we signed off the FM station. We worked a 6 day week at the station at that time. I would come home to Kittanning on Saturday night, and drive back to Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Now with that set up, let me get on with the story.

I started back to Pittsburgh around 3 PM or so which meant I listened to the landing on the moon in my car. My first part of the job was stopping off at our transmitter site to check the meter readings, comparing them with the remote readings at the studio via phone. Yes at that time a daily meter check at the transmitter site was an FCC requirement for broadcast stations. After the check I would drive to downtown Pittsburgh to our studios, parking my car on the street a couple blocks away to save parking garage fees.

As I mentioned, I pretty much followed the mission from the studios via our AP (Associated Press) teletype news machine, with perhaps an occasional check of KDKA on our EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) monitor radio. It was then I learned of the move up in the time of the moonwalk. I had it figured out that I could easily sign off the station at 11 PM, walk to my car and be at my Pittsburgh apartment in time to watch and tape the moonwalk. I had brought my tape recorder with me, and left it in the car figuring I would have time to set it up at the apartment.

Well, now I had to change my plans. I knew it would be close, but I might make it if I signed the station off a few minutes early, dashed to my car, drove like an Indy driver, dashed up to my 3rd floor apartment, and quickly set up the recorder. Actually it wasn't really an apartment, but a rooming house that I lived in then. Anyway I did as described, and it worked except when I ran up the stairs and more or less threw the recorder (reel to reel type) on the bed. It bounced off onto the floor, but fortunately wasn't damaged. I picked it up, hooked it up and wound up only missing the first several minutes of coverage. But that part was re-run so many times I was able to edit it into the beginning of the tape where it belonged. I've since re-dubbed it from reel to reel onto cassette tape, and probably will get it on a CD or DVD sometime. -30-

Monday, July 20, 2009 3:51 PM - I thought I'd write this while I'm listening to the re-broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission. It's interesting because I'm hearing things I missed back in 1969. At that time we were dependent on broadcast radio and TV for the info which they would relay from Mission Control in Houston and Columbia and Eagle. Many times the announcer would start talking just as a bit of important info came from NASA and effectively QRMing NASA. For this re-broadcast, all the audio comes directly from NASA, and every bit of communication between Houston and the Columbia/Eagle can be heard without any interruption. Of course back then unless you had sophisticated equipment, you had no way to monitor NASA directly. I believe (don't quote me) the NASA TV channel may have been in existence then, but only on a few cable TV systems or via satellite. Nowadays anyone with Internet can watch NASA TV 24/7 if they wish.

Also back then I was working at WPIT. In fact I had just started working there about 3 months before Apollo 11, and didn't have the luxury of listening to other stations or watching TV as I was still learning the work. I've mentioned before how as I got used to working there, I'd often watch TV while working with the complete assent of management. I told the story of how the manager even called me from home to be sure I knew there was a particularly exciting football game on TV so I wouldn't miss it.

In July 1969 I pretty much had to follow the mission on our AP teletype machine. I still have some of the printed copy from the machine here.

I didn't have access to the classic remarks like the exchange I just heard between Mike Collins in Columbia and Houston. Houston told Mike they would be losing high gain antenna alignment on Columbia as Eagle would begin its powered descent to the surface, thus losing communication with Mike for a while. Mike replied that he understood and Houston probably didn't care anyway. Houston replied that was correct. They all knew 99.9 percent of the attention at that time would be concentrated on Eagle.

I always felt a bit sorry for Collins, who despite being an extremely important member of the team, had to remain in the command module and didn't get near the amount of attention that Aldrin and Armstrong did.

We're in the midst of the powered descent now, so I'm going to close and concentrate on that now.

Another classic exchange several minutes after the landing. Houston says there are a lot of smiling faces in Houston and around the world. Aldrin or Armstrong replies 'and two up here' followed by Collins saying 'and don't forget one in the command module'. -30-

Sunday, July 19, 2009 10:45 AM - I received an email from AE4RV that leads me to believe I may have misled some folks about Wally Schirra so I'll expand on him.

Of course Wally was one of the original 7 astronauts chosen in the US Space Program (along with Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, and Deke Slayton), and he is the only astronaut to fly in all three of the pioneering spaceflight programs - Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. His 3 flights, for no particular reason, came in numerical order. He flew Mercury 5 in 1962, Gemini 6(A) in 1965, and Apollo 7 in 1968. He was involved in at least two very important firsts in manned spaceflight. When he flew Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford, they took part in the first ever rendezvous between two manned maneuverable spacecraft along with Gemini 7, flying in close formation for 5 hours. Apollo 7 was the first manned Apollo flight after the disastrous Apollo fire that took the lives of three astronauts on the launch pad. Apollo 7 was the test flight that proved Apollo was ready to go to the moon. Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham flew with Schirra on Apollo 7.

With that history, CBS thought that Wally would be a good choice to bring first hand expertise on space flight to the broadcast booth. Also Wally had a great personality including a 'twinkle in the eye' sense of humor, and when he teamed with Walter Cronkite, their rapport, camaraderie, and kidding in the booth made them somewhat as much a part of the space program as the astronauts and ground crew themselves. Even though they were only together from 1969 to 1975, they are by far the most well-remembered broadcast team of the entire Space Age.

Personally, my most-remembered spaceflight was not Apollo 11, but Apollo 8, the first flight TO the moon. No landing was involved by Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and Bill Anders, but nevertheless it was made memorable for other reasons. First was its timing around Christmas day 1968 capped off by the Bible reading from the creation story in Genesis on Christmas Eve. Other things that made it memorable were the number of firsts with the attendant drama of whether those firsts would be successful or not. 8 was the first manned spacecraft to: Escape Earth's gravitational field; escape from another celestial body's gravitation; return to Earth from another celestial body. In addition Borman, Anders, and Lovell were the first humans to see the far side of the moon with their naked eyes, and the first to see Earth from orbit around another celestial body. Another very dramatic moment came when they flew behind the moon for the first time and naturally lost communication with Earth. There was a lot of breath-holding until signal was re-acquired when they came out from behind the moon. One other thing to mention is that it was the first manned spaceflight launched by a Saturn V rocket since it was the only rocket at that time powerful enough to boost a payload to the velocity needed to escape from Earth.

This is bringing back a lot of memories, and I'll have more to say about the space program over the next few days. -30-

Saturday, July 18, 2009 10:36 PM - Today was a day of doing a lot of little things, most all of which aren't even worth writing about. It was a showery day, and I did go fishing after one of the showers but that didn't even yield any good bites let alone any fish. I took one longish walk today of about 4 miles and in looking at my pedometer now I see I made a total of just over 6 miles altogether today.

The ham bands were particularly dead sounding this evening. I checked several bands and only heard perhaps a half dozen CW signals. However I only had to CQ a few minutes before N9WAY answered me for my streak QSO. I'm now exactly 50 QSO's from the 50,000 mark in the streak and 16 days from completing 15 years of daily QSO's, QRP/CW/simple wire antennas, of course. Just 11 new stations to make 15,000 different stations worked in the streak according to unique call signs in my log for the streak. So some significant milestones coming up during the next couple weeks. I really never thought it would go this far, but I'm glad it did because it has pointed out, and continues to point out just how efficient and effective CW is on the ham bands, despite being bashed by so many unknowing folks as being an obsolete mode. Nonsense!

Oh, and one thing to add. Isn't it a bit ironic that Walter Cronkite passed away on Friday at age 92 just a few days shy of the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing. He and Wally Schirra (d. May 3, 2007) did so much to popularize the space program and bring news of its exciting early days to a large proportion of the World's population. In my mind, they were every bit as much of the space program as the astronauts. Off the top of my head, I can't even remember the reporters on NBC and ABC other than Jules Bergman. For me it was the Walter and Wally show that gave me my news about Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. What a great time that was. -30-

Friday, July 17, 2009 11:05 PM - I did so much today, I can't even remember it all. HI. Let's work backwards. I just finished catching a couple dozen nightcrawlers which should hold me for quite a while, as little as I seem to get to go fishing this year. In the middle of that I took a little walk with Bruce as he was walking Joe.

Before that I got my temperature readings. Yet another cool day with a high just reaching 72 plus just over 1/2 inch of rain. Preceding that, I actually got to go fishing. A lot of that 1/2 inch of rain came this evening so I made it a point to set aside some time to go check the storm sewer outlets in the river for carp. I caught a 19 inch carpsucker who did a good impression of a carp biting, but no carp.

While waiting out the rain I did some things on the computer including playing some Doom. That was after I came home from a walk before the rain started. The walk was primarily to get some exercise after my 3rd very filling meal this week. Sunday at Applebees, Thursday at our computer club picnic, and today Nancy took Bruce and me to Ponderosa where I take full advantage of and get full money's worth of food at their buffet bar. Now I guess I'm going to have to fast all next week to get rid of the 5-6 extra pounds I gained this week. I hate to get above my ~155 lbs. weight, but I couldn't turn down any of the three meals.

Earlier in the afternoon, I spent quite a bit of time with Joe while Bruce and Nancy were away. We had a good time sitting on the porch swing just watching the world go by. Joe loves these cool temperatures, and he gets a little sluggish when it gets too warm and humid like yesterday.

This morning it was mostly computer work doing NAQCC business along with work on my own web site. And I mixed in a walk through the park along the way. That pretty much covers my day. -30-

Thursday, July 16, 2009 3:44 PM - I think last evening's NAQCC sprint showed that our sprints have reached a great deal of maturity, and can take their place among the best of all sprints. Conditions were not all that good here - and according to soapbox comments, anywhere else either - yet everyone was in there plugging away with dedication to the NAQCC. I think a couple years ago, maybe even last year, with similar conditions I might have made 20 QSO's at best, yet in this July's sprint I wound up with 37 and could have had more as I know I missed a few stations answering my CQ's due to the poor conditions. I'm very proud of our members and the way they support our various NAQCC activities, especially our sprints.

One thing does puzzle me about the sprints. There are some folks who show up in our sprints regularly, yet for whatever reason are reluctant to become NAQCC members. I've thought about that and the only thing I can figure out is that it must be easier for them to send 5W instead of a 4 digit membership number in the exchange. Or they don't think they can remember a membership number so they don't join any clubs and have no problem remembering 5W. What do you think? It certainly can't be the cost, since the club is completely free of any membership dues.

Again I'm writing this earlier in the day since our computer club picnic is this evening.

The global warming enthusiasts can come out of hiding today here in Kittanning. This is like an old fashioned hot humid summer day that we used to have years ago before 'global warming' was born. However the global warming folks will come out and say 'see what we mean, it is getting hotter'. I get such a kick out of them. -30-

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 7:09 PM - With our sprint coming up tonight, I thought I'd just write a short entry now because hopefully I'll be busy processing a lot of logs right after the sprint.

It finally felt a little like summer here today with temperatures in the 80's and higher humidity. Still in this era of 'global warming', we're having what some are starting to call 'The Year of No True Summer' here in the northeast which is a takeoff on 1816's 'The Year Without a Summer.' If you're not familiar with 1816, it makes interesting reading. Just Bing something like '1816 Summer', and you'll get a lot of hits about that interesting year.

Paul N0NBD writes, "Hello John, Just about to call it a night here at 5am comes early. I voted in the pole and wanted to add, I only have qrp rigs. My Paragon died a few years ago and I found out my home brew kit radios do fine. The tomatoes are coming along and 2 are "pinking" up. Also caught some 18 in channel cat fish on my 2 wt fly rod last weekend. Man that was a rush. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Elwood WB0OEW writes, "Hi John, Next monday is the 40th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11. I found a great web site that plans to recreate the event, and the four days prior, in real time. You can check it out at http://wechoosethemoon.org." That should be very interesting viewing for those who remember watching/listening to the actual event back in 1969. Maybe I'll write a little story about it when the day comes. I haven't had time to check out the web site yet, but I certainly will somehow make time to do so. -30-

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:12 PM - I just posted a new poll. I hope you'll cast your vote in this one which was suggested by Mike KC2EGL. If you're new to my web site and don't know, the poll is found on the main page of my site about half-way down the page.

Bruce and I took my telescope out last night and he had his first look at Jupiter and its 4 easily visible moons along with a couple of the cloud belts on Jupiter. We also looked at a few more objects while the scope was out. It's nice to share views of the sky with someone who is truly interested in them but never really had a chance to do much observing before, and that description fits Bruce.

Tomorrow evening is our monthly NAQCC sprint and the following evening is our computer club picnic, so the next couple of diary entries will probably be brief as this one is going to be also since it's past time for my nightly temperature readings and I gotta go get 'em. -30-

Monday, July 13, 2009 8:09 PM - I received a couple new certificates in the mail yesterday. I wasn't expecting either one. One was for the 2008 IARU Championships and the other for the 2009 Virginia QSO Party. I know I didn't do all that well in either one, but just happened to be one of the few entrants in the particular category I entered. In the VA QSO Party I see I made 32 QSO's in 22 sections. In the IARU Champs I got 136 QSO's with 28 multipliers. Actually now that I checked, that is better than I thought I had done, but still not all that great an effort. You can see the certificates on the main page in my contesting section if you're at all interested.

Here's an interesting newspaper article about Morse Code pointed out to me by Ed KB3SZZ: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09193/983408-53.stm -30-

Sunday, July 12, 2009 8:57 PM - We had a good time at the North Hills hamfest today. It's a little discouraging to see how little emphasis is placed on CW at these hamfests nowadays though. Except for a very few straight keys and a couple bugs for sale, and the always pleasant presence of Bob WC3O and the Skyview Radio Club, you wouldn't know CW existed as a ham radio mode any longer. I did have one satisfying CW moment though. When I mentioned that I only operated CW, and no other modes, one fellow made the comment that I was a true ham in the traditional sense of the word.

It was nice to see Mike KD0AR again. We signed Mike up as NAQCC member 1000 at the Butler hamfest a few years ago. I didn't know till today that Mike was into broadcast engineering as I was when I was working. And we ran into another old time BC engineer also when Mike and I were talking.

After the hamfest, Tom and I, along with another local ham John KB3SVJ stopped in at Applebees for a great meal from which I am still full some 6 hours later.

So it was a good day here topped off by a little fishing this evening. The weather is so nice I just took a couple lures and my new spinning reel and fairly new rod down to the river not really caring if I caught anything or not. Good thing I felt that way because I didn't catch anything. HI. -30-

Saturday, July 11, 2009 7:51 PM - All day I waited for some rain so I could go check the river for some carp at the storm sewer outlets, but the rain never came and I never did go fishing. For the past couple years there have been more than the normal number of occasions when a frontal type rain system will be headed straight for us, then for whatever reason a gap develops in the rain and it goes north and/or south of us leaving us with just a few sprinkles at most. It's getting to the point now where it's getting kind of eerie. I'm thinking of contacting the Penn State meteorological department to see if they have noticed it and if they have any possible explanation for it. I can't think of any topological features that would account for it.

Tomorrow Tom WY3H and I are headed to the North Hills hamfest just north of Pittsburgh. If you're interested in deciding at the last minute to come, just Bing 'North Hills Hamfest' and the first or second hit on the Bing search engine will give you information.

I just had a bit of fun in the IARU contest for a few minutes while getting my daily QSO. I worked a couple Asiatic Russians easily - RO9O and UA9UZZ, but couldn't get RC0O (or was it RC9O - I forget now) which would have been a new prefix. Also missed CR5HQ which I think would have been a new prefix also. I did catch AO8HQ and GB7HQ for new prefixes, I believe. I'll have to check things all out to see just what was new and what wasn't when I get time. All of that was on 20M. Maybe I'll try later to see if I can work NA, SA, and OC for a weekend WAC. I probably should have been in a contesting mood as the bands seemed pretty good the little time I was on, but I wasn't so.... -30-

Friday, July 10, 2009 10:58 PM - Oh, I forgot one other important 'luck' item about fishing. One has to be lucky to not have too many responsibilities that prevent him from going fishing in the first place. That seems to be happening to me more and more. I figure I'm going to spend 'tomorrow' doing a good deal of fishing, but then this or that turns up and I don't do any fishing at all.

Today I spent a good deal of time putting the finishing touches on the NAQCC newsletter to get it ready for posting at 2300Z. As the club grows, so does the newsletter and the time I must devote to putting it all together.

So once again, no fishing today. And again I can say maybe tomorrow, but.... well, we will just have to wait and see.

It was nice to work one of our newest NAQCC members, Ed KB3SZZ this evening on 40M. We had communicated via email quite a bit, and finally hooked up on the air this evening for a nice 20 minute QSO before the band shifted on us.

I did get in some walking today, if not fishing. So at least I'm keeping up my exercise. Just under 7 miles today after 3 straight days of just over 7 miles. I also helped Nancy plant a shrub in her front yard.

Now I've got some new NAQCC members to process, some little flyers for the NAQCC to design and print, plan out our route to the North Hills hamfest Sunday, and answer some emails. It never stops. -30-

Thursday, July 09, 2009 10:26 PM - I think it's worth noting that most people seem to realize that fishing is largely a matter of luck. When I'm on my way to the river with my poles, folks will most of the time say something like, "Good luck!", or "I hope you have some luck today", and so forth. When I'm coming home from fishing, it's, "Any luck?", or "Did you have good luck today?", and so forth.

When you get right down to it, luck is the most important thing in fishing, and it's luck in many different ways. You have to have luck to be in the right place at the right time when the fish are biting on the particular bait you are using. You have to have luck that they will bite the bait in such a way that they either hook themselves or so that you can hook them with a jerk of your rod. If they don't, then the point of the hook will just pass through water and not fish lips.

To give yourself a better chance of being lucky at fishing, you have to have another kind of luck. You must be lucky enough to have the resources to buy and keep a boat, and other fancy gadgets like a fish finder, expensive lures, etc. Those things can do a lot to tip the fishing luck in your favor.

So when someone catches 15 fish on a day you caught none, analyze the situation to consider his equipment versus yours. If he has the much better equipment, the luck will be biased in his favor. Or even if the equipment is similar, condsider the very bottom line - LUCK. That's why I never feel bad when someone outdoes me in fishing. I know I am probably just as good a fisherman as he is, but just not as lucky that particular day, or maybe never as lucky if he always has the scale weighted in his favor with his equipment.

Conversely, I do feel bad when I'm fishing with someone and I'm catching all the fish. I always hope that person realizes it's just that I have the luck that day, and doesn't think he is a much poorer fisherman than I am. Also if I have caught a bunch of fish and another fisherman wanders by and says he caught only 2 small bass or the like, then asks how I did, I will understate what I caught so as not to hurt his feelings. I always try to be diplomatic when dealing with my fellow human beings.

That was kind of a rambling entry, but I hope I made my point.

I had a very nice visit with Don WA3ZBJ today. We spent a couple hours together playing radio. He brought his Palm Paddle, K-1 rig, and an OHR QRP wattmeter. We measured my power output on each band from 160 through 6 meters and it was 5 watts +/- 0.1 volts on each band. The trivial difference was due to not getting the SWR exactly down to 1:1 on a couple bands. Then I tried out the paddle and the K-1 for a little while, and made an un-planned QSO with Tom WY3H, whom we just happened to find calling CQ on 40 meters. -30-

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 11:45 PM - The SF has been in the low 70's again for 5 straight days now. Could this be the awakening of the Sun we've been waiting for?

This was yet another busy day, and as you see from the time line at the beginning of this entry, it's almost over now, and just about time to get to bed. Tomorrow is a garden watering day, and also includes a visit from my friend Don WA3ZBJ. So I'm cutting this entry off now. -30-

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 9:26 PM - 'Tis said that time flows faster as you get older. I'm getting to believe that more and more. Or perhaps it is simply because time seems to pass faster when you keep busy. Anyway most days lately it seems like I get out of bed and a little while later it's evening and time to write another diary entry.

The main things going on today were helping Ange get his garden watered and then fishing for a couple hours this afternoon. I even actually caught some fish again. The two suckers I got pulled me even with my total I had last July 7th, and moved me a bit closer to my overall average although I'm still quite a bit off pace.

In between times I did get to visit with Joe for a little while. I kept him company while Bruce and Nancy were away for awhile. Then my usual daily NAQCC work filled in a lot more time. I had a fairly easy time getting my QSO of the day this evening, working N9KKY easily on 40M. However a sked with new NAQCC member KB3SZZ to give him some on-air code work didn't pan out as expected. Topping off the day were a couple walks totalling a little over 7 miles, and now here I am writing this and waiting for a couple minutes to pass to go out to try to spot a couple Iridium satellite flares. Bruce and I tried for a daylight sighting around 7:54 PM, but saw nothing for some reason, perhaps not looking in the exact right spot which is required most times for a daylight sighting. I'll just leave this open and let you know if I catch the two Iridiums, one of which (#90) would be one I haven't logged before.

I caught the two Iridium flares and got a bonus with an ISS sighting all within 10 minutes or less. There were some scattered clouds, but they posed no problem.

Tomorrow I help Ange haul some junk out of his garden to our borough burning pit, and then in the evening it's our Computer Club. It sure is nice to keep busy, isn't it? At least I hope you feel the same way as I do about that. It's the only way to fly. -30-

Monday, July 06, 2009 8:46 PM - Here's a bit more diary input from regular contributor Paul N0NBD, "Great picture of Joe! Joe always seems to show a little "attitude" in his pictures. Sure hope everything there is good, my "maters" and peppers are coming along although late. Has been beastly hot but cooled off a little last week. The fishing improved also. The Smith men fished at Elsmore this morning at sun up and Richard caught a 15 inch bass. Les caught one about that size yesterday. I caught a few small bass but lots of green bluegills. Have a good one de N0NBD Paul".

That picture of Joe was taken the day he got his hair trimmed, and the groomer put the little scarf on him. I'm not sure if he was showing it off or was annoyed by it in the picture. As for the "maters", I've picked 21 so far and been enjoying them mostly in BLT sandwiches.

If you're not a NAQCC member (or possibly even if you are), you may not know that one of our awards is for working certain numbers of stations whose call letters suffix spells out a word. I added one to my collection this evening when WA0BAG answered my CQ.

As for fishing (going back to Paul's comments), after a fast start the first few days of July, I've gone back to being busy again the past couple days helping Ange, Bruce, and Nancy plus doing things of my own around the house. Hopefully tomorrow after helping Ange water his garden, I can head to the river in the afternoon and try to bring my total of fish up some more to get closer to normal. Then Wednesday hopefully Bruce and I will head up river a couple of locks to try our hand there. -30-

Sunday, July 05, 2009 2:29 PM - I had an email from Tim AC5SH who voted 'other' in my poll and explained his choice. He also mentioned Joe and included a picture of his dog Lafy. That reminded me I haven't put a picture of Joe in the diary for a while so..... for Tim and anyone else who is curious about Joe, here goes.
pix_diary_20090705_01 (62K)

And here's a bit more diary input. This from Dennis N1IMW, "Hi John, Thank for your great writing. Keep the faith. My daughter plays in the National Guard Band here in New Hampshire. I'll remind her not to shuffle when I go listen to her on July 4 playing the Patriotic Music you love. She plays the piccolo solo in "STars and Stripes Forever" ! At W1AW, near where I work, I stop in a lot to work 7030 for the qrp'ers. They love getting W1AW qsl cards. If you ever want to sked, let me know! Regards, Dennis M. Markell". That sounds like a good deal about W1AW, and with their antenna setup, it should be easy for Dennis to copy any QRP or QRPp signal at all. Maybe I'll try to arrange something with Dennis, W1AW, and the NAQCC to give our members a chance to work W1AW. -30-

Saturday, July 04, 2009 6:46 PM - I had a great Independence Day. While not an official TEA Party, I'd like to think of the cookout with Nancy, Bruce, (and Joe) today as one, since we are all upset about the excess taxation under the new administration.

Bruce grilled hot dogs and sausage, and Nancy prepared baked macaroni and baked beans. That was topped off with cherry pie and ice cream. The food was enjoyed by all, including Joe who managed to persuade us all to give him his share in little bits at a time.

My American flag is flying proudly on my porch today as it does every patriotic holiday to remember my dad who fought the 1940's version of terrorism in WW II. May that battle continue today against an even more evil and dangerous form of terrorism. -30-

Friday, July 03, 2009 8:35 PM - Tomorrow is one of our greatest national holidays - The Fourth of July - more properly known as Independence Day. It marks the 233rd anniversary of declaring our independence from a tyrannical government in a wonderful document - The Declaration of Independence. Have you ever read this document in its entirety? If not, you should. There is much in there that applies not only to our country in 1776, but to our country today. Read it over and think about it. It's very disquieting to say the least.

Otherwise have a very happy holiday and somewhere along the way, say a prayer for the United States to help her survive at least another 233 years as a free nation. -30-

Thursday, July 02, 2009 9:58 PM - After that brief foray into the lower 70's by the Solar Flux about a month ago, the Sun seems to have pushed the snooze button once again. We're stagnating in the upper 60's again, and have been there for the past 27 days now. And the past few days now, the bands have sounded pretty poor, especially 40M. With the exception of FD which, as do most big contests, brought the bands alive, even the higher ones, conditions have been very poor, and it's been a bit rougher getting my daily QSO. However with the efficiency of CW, there's been no real problem other than just taking a bit longer than usual.

June turned out to be below normal, temperature-wise, and we still have yet to experience any prolonged spell of hot weather. The next week or so is predicted to be cool as well, despite the alleged Algore global warming. But that's another story.

I've now doubled my July fish total from last year and it only took two days to do so. Bruce and I went fishing early this morning down river at Rosston where Crooked Creek flows into the Allegheny. Bruce was unlucky, but I caught two nice carpsuckers to bring my 2009 total to 30, still some 13 fish below normal at this time of year. -30-

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:35 PM - I've now caught as many fish this July as I did all of July 2008. I got 2 fish on a lure today trying out a new spinning reel I bought this morning. Then a Sucker on peanut butter bread this evening. Maybe I can start making some headway towards making this a better fishing year now.

Some interesting milestones coming up on my streak. August 4 will mark 15 years of daily QRP CW simple wire antenna QSO's. Also I'm nearing the 50,000 QSO mark in the streak. One other thing I see is that I have almost 15,000 unique stations worked during the streak. It's possible the two other marks will occur around August 4th as well.

It certainly has been a rewarding run for me. My biggest delight comes from showing hams just how great CW is, and how easy it is to make QSO's using that wonderful mode, even with such a simple set-up as mine. I'm nothing special as far as the streak goes. All I do is more or less show up each day, and let the Morse Code do the work as only it can. I wonder if any other mode under the same conditions (QRP and simple wire antennas) could accomplish the same thing. I'm sure it would not be as easy even if it could be done. -30-

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:17 PM - I took some time off from my busy schedule to do some fishing today. In fact I fished about 3 hours total in two separate sessions. I only got one 18 inch Carpsucker in all that time, but it was nice to be out there again anyway. Maybe July will be a better month with more time to fish and to catch more fish. Only 11 fish caught in June which has to be my lowest June total in many years. In fact except for 3 years when I didn't get started fishing seriously till July for one reason or other, this is my worst June since I started fishing again in 1992. I just hope this year doesn't follow last year's pattern when I got 12 in June, then only 3 in July. -30-

Monday, June 29, 2009 9:25 PM - Ham Radio vs. the Internet, Part I. While looking up an email address for a ham on the Internet, I found he had a presence on a site called something like 73.net. From the brief glance I took at it, it looked like yet another Internet site for hams that is encouraging them to communicate via the Internet instead of on the ham bands as they should be doing.

Like it or not, the Internet, cell phones, and other such means of communication are going to be the death of ham radio. It may take some time for that to happen, but I'm sure it will.

Folks these days have become lazy which has led to the dumbing down of the American people. It is too much effort to learn something, so they find the easiest way to go through life. Oh, there still are a good many people who still enjoy living life the traditional way and who work hard for a living, enjoy learning something new every day, help out their fellow man whenever possible, and in general live the kind of life that everyone used to admire and look up to at one time.

Before I get too far off track, let's see how this relates to ham radio. What's the difference between talking to someone on the other side of the world via ham radio vs. in an Internet chat room. Basically the amount of effort involved, and the inherent reward that comes from that effort. To do it via ham radio requires (or did require) a good deal of study. You have to learn just how this thing called radio works, not to mention the rules governing its use, how to construct a station and antenna system, and a good many other things that take some effort. To do it via the Internet, someone else has set up this system that connects computers around the world. All you have to do is pay a company a fee to get yourself connected into that system via your computer which someone else designed and built and sold to you. There's no real learning or effort involved unless you consider learning how to spell and punch letters on a keyboard is an effort.

I find it extremely rewarding to get on the ham bands and talk to someone that way, whether it be around the world or even just down the street. Why? Because I had to put in quite a bit of effort and study to get to the point where I could do so.

I can communicate the same information via an Internet chat room as I can on the ham bands, but doing so on the Internet is just nowhere near as exciting or rewarding to me.

I find it very discouraging and even disgusting when I run across some "ham radio" club that has too much of an Internet presence and actually encourages its members to communicate via the Internet rather than on the ham bands. This is why, as long as I am associated with it, the NAQCC will never engage it that kind of anti-ham radio activity. We want our members to do their communicating on the air. The NAQCC web site exists merely as a reference site to disseminate information about ham radio so our members can more efficiently communicate on the ham bands - period. For that matter, my personal web site is here to serve that exact same purpose, and will always be that way. End of Part I. Part II will follow sometime in the future.

Just a note about today to close this entry. It was another really good day with a lot of hard work finishing up Ange's garden shed, interspersed with feeding and walking Joe. Joe and I had a great time today, and he was really good about everything. Actually he is pretty good most of the time. Sometimes though when we go for a walk, he doesn't want to come back in the house, and sits or lays down on the lawn or sidewalk until he is good and ready to go inside. I really don't mind that though, as it's nice to sit out with him. He has really been a bright spot in my life since he 'moved in' next door back in January. -30-

Sunday, June 28, 2009 8:54 PM - I had planned to do a discussion of ham radio vs. the Internet, but then I got involved in trying out a new defragger on my computer which took about 3.5 hours to do a complete defragging and optimization of the file system. That threw off my schedule so now I only have time for a short entry. Incidentally the defragger is JKDefrag if you're interested. Just do a Bing search for it.

Fortunately my QSO of the day came quickly this evening so I didn't waste time trying for that. I tuned to 30M, heard W2TOM calling CQ and worked him easily for about 15 minutes or so. Then another Tom WY3H called and reminded me of our NAQCC Slow Speed net at 0030Z on 7.122 MHz, so I checked in there and listened for about 10 minutes or so before I QRT to come update my web site.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. It starts with helping Ange finish the shed in his garden, then I'll be dog-sitting, so to speak, with Joe as Nancy and Bruce are going away for the day. I had hoped to get in some fishing, but I guess that will wait yet another day. This year is going to wind up even poorer than last year as far as number of fish caught if this keeps up. -30-

Saturday, June 27, 2009 8:20 PM - I hope everyone is having fun at FD. Actually if you're having fun at FD, I should make that first line - I hope everyone had fun at FD - because you won't be reading this, if you read it at all, until after FD is over.

FD has never been one of my favorite activities here. So far I've only worked Mike KC2EGL to give him a QRP FD contact, then K1RK for my QSO of the day for the 28th, and finally K3TTK which is the main station that Mike is operating for the local club here in Armstrong County. Unless I get the urge tomorrow morning after walking Joe or early tomorrow afternoon, those 3 QSO's will probably be it for me.

I went to a band concert this evening to hear some good patriotic music, but was disappointed. Except for the beatiful Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and teh Armed Forces Medley, most of the other songs weren't all that inspiring, and there was a lot of talking and shuffling around in the amphitheater, not by the audience but by the band and those running the concert. So I left early. It was encouraging to see a very large crowd there to show that good band music is still as popular as some of the trashy new modern noise that masquerades as music.

I didn't hear anything on 6 or 10 meters this evening like I did last night. In fact there wasn't much on 15 meters either which was surprising because FD should have made that band more active than what it was. Probably everyone thought it wouldn't be open and didn't bother setting up for that band. -30-

Friday, June 26, 2009 10:19 PM - Geo N1EAV emails, "Hi John Just a quick note that 6 and 10 meters open here in Massachsetts....8pm local. 10 open to europe and 6 open to 8,9 and ve3 land...........hope all well your way"

Yes, all is well this way and 10 and 6 were also open here in the 0000Z hour. I didn't have time to try to make QSO's though. I did call a N4 in TN on 10M, but so did several other higher power stations at the same time, so I didn't get him.

This was a gloomy day today. It looked like rain most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon, then it started clearing and now we have perfectly clear skies. If I get my computer work done, I might just take my scope out, but its getting pretty late here already now. Maybe if I hurry. -30-

Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:19 PM - We're just at the end of a brief period of heavy rain with accompanying lightning and thunder. Once again, as has happened most times the past couple years, the worst missed us, some going north of here and some going south of here.

I was sitting over on Nancy's porch visiting with her and Bruce as we watched the storm develop. Of course Joe was there also. I was sitting down on the porch floor with him. He seemed a little upset with the storm, but not that much. I could feel him pressing against my leg a couple times as we sat there as if he wanted my protection.

For the 7th time in the last 10 days, I've worked some DX, most of it on 20M which continues to be great to EU in the 0000Z hour. Tonight it was CT1JOP. Took a couple repeats to get my call right, but a good QSO after that.

The rain seems to have stopped now, so I better go out and get my temperature readings. Our first 90 degree day of June today, and the rain dumped .33 inches in its 15 minutes or so.

Not as much work today, but I did help Ange weed his garden, watered my garden, and picked one crop of lettuce which was just starting to go to seed in the hot weather. I think I saved some of it before it turned bitter, although some of it did already. -30-

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 8:18 PM - Yet another rewarding day of good work, although not as hard as the past couple days. I helped Mike KC2EGL get his tent, table, chairs, and antenna set up for Field Day this weekend. He sets up for the local ham radio club. I don't belong to the club because I don't like their attitude towards CW operators. They hypocritically welcome Mike's operating CW to help them up their FD scores, but bash CW the rest of the year as an antiquated, outdated mode of operation.

Mike and I also tested out a couple of his portable antennas for use with his KX-1 that he and I built last winter. With some tweaking we got the SWR down to a reasonable reading on both antennas on 40,30, and 20M on the KX-1. So he is ready for some portable operating with the KX-1 now independent of FD where he will be operating QRO for the club.

DX continues good on 20M in the evening, and of late it has been easier to get a quick DX QSO there than to get a regular QSO on 40M which has pretty much been the pits of late. This evening, for the 5th of the past 6 days I snagged a quick 20M DX QSO - this time with Jurek EC6TK. -30-

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 5:31 PM - Another good half-day of good hard work today, and I feel great. I just don't know how some folks can sit around all day and do just about nothing, but it seems more and more folks are getting that way as time goes by. Kinda puts me in mind of what I've read about the old Roman Empire, and we all know what happened to it in 476 A.D., don't we. Or do we, as more and more folks seem to know less and less about history. That's scary as I firmly believe in the adage that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Ange and I put the roof and back on the shed today, and now have only the door to install. Not only is the work rewarding, but making something out of old scrap wood adds to the challenge and satisfaction. Bruce and Tom WY3H also lent a hand with the shed.

Mike KC2EGL is coming down tomorrow and we are going to spend the day together. I think I'll be helping him set up his tent for Field Day, and then I don't know what we'll be doing the rest of the day, but I'm sure it will be interesting as we have so many common interests and views on things.

I've found another really good Doom wad. For those of you interesting in playing this classic computer game that helps build your reasoning powers and reflexes, you can do a Bing search for 1killtng.wad. It works fine on the ZDoom port and probably on Doom 2 as well. -30-

Monday, June 22, 2009 8:52 PM - I put in about an 8 hour work today. Too bad I didn't get 25-30 dollars an hour like some union workers get for doing a lot less work than I did. I helped Ange build a storage shed for his garden. We had to dig 6 holes for the posts - fortunately we had a power augur to do that. Since it was all old scrap wood we used, everything had to be cut to length including the posts. To make a long story short, it was hard work, the kind I love to do, even if I don't get paid for it. Tomorrow we should pretty much finish it off, I hope, as it's taking up a lot of my time that I should be devoting to other things. For example after I type this, I have to finish producing our NAQCC newsletter for this coming weekend. And because of that, I'm going to cut this entry short. -30-

Sunday, June 21, 2009 8:23 PM - DX has been quite good on 20M lately. Without half trying, I've worked LY3X, EI9JF, Asiatic Russia, Kazahkstan, and a couple Caribbeans there. I even heard an OZ1 station on 17M, but couldn't work him.

The Sun is just setting here. It sure is wonderful to have it shining so late in the evening, but after next Saturday, it will start setting earlier each evening until December 8th. At least the warm weather doesn't follow the sunset times due to the lag in heating up the Earth, especially the polar regions so the temperatures won't peak until around July 20th, and will remain nice and warm through the latter part of September and perhaps well into October. However October is not a given. It can turn nasty early in that month and stay that way. We'll have to see what this year has in store. -30-

Saturday, June 20, 2009 7:15 PM - I was watching one of Chuck Norris' Missing in Action movies with Bruce yesterday. Chuck is one of my heroes who in real life as well as in his movies stands up for the true American way and fights those who would destroy our country from without or within. I hope he keeps up his good work.

Bruce and I went fishing up river to Lock 8 today. It was a beautiful day just to sit by the river in a different place, and catching two suckers added to the enjoyment.

Continuing with the mish-mash of comments in today's entry, here's a link sent by Roy W5RJ to an article about the continuing sleepiness of the Sun and what may be causing it. See here to read the article. -30-

Friday, June 19, 2009 9:23 PM - After calling CQ on 40 for about a half hour with no results, I decided to try 20 in the AA contest and in a couple minutes I worked RK9QWM, UN9L, and RO9O easily. It's mostly always easy to work into Asiatic Russia and environs around sunset here. I heard several other stations in that area, but couldn't work them though. Didn't hear a single JA station so it was kind of localized propagation.

Fishing was also pretty good today. I got 2 suckers, a turtle, and a sandpike as well as having two other fish hooked, but not landed. This continues to be about my 4th worst year though at this point in time. Still things could pick up or they could continue as bad as last year or even worse. I had 30 at this time last year compared to 22 now this year. -30-

Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:28 PM - A nice day today for being outside, so I took advantage of it. I mowed my grass and pulled the grass and weeds from between the bricks in the walk and from under the bushes in my front yard. I also took a couple longer walks than I've been taking the past few days for a total of, let's see, 7.71 miles so far. It feels good to get some time off from NAQCC and other computer work to get in some exercise.

It looks like no one made too many QSO's in our NAQCC mW sprint last evening and my 3 QSO's with my minimal effort aren't all that shameful. Several folks had 3 or 4 QSO's, some less, and a couple had more. So far 8 QSO's is the most reported. -30-

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 9:47 PM - The trip to the groomers went very well. Joe was just as relaxed in the car as he is when we sit on the porch swing. Also he was very well behaved at the groomers getting his hair cut, washed, and nails trimmed. The only thing that upset him a little bit was when two little dogs came in for a nail trimming. We went and waited in the car while they were taken care of. Good thing, too, as they did not like the trimming at all and put out almost a constant high pitched yelping. After hearing that, I was proud of Joe and the way he took things calmly in stride. I'll see if I can put up a before and after picture. I need to get a better after picture as the ones today were taken inside, and I hate to use a flash with Joe's big eyes, and they came out a little dark and a little blurry with the longer exposure. So maybe I can get a better picture tomorrow outside.

We had 1.15 inches of rain today. That's the most we've had in a while and also had some lightning and thunder along with it, not to mention a tornado watch which is just about expiring now. That weather gave me no encouragement for our NAQCC mW sprint this evening. So I only put in a minimal effort to avert a shutout. I managed 3 QSO's in a short period of operating time. I didn't come anywhere near to doing a full effort. As I put in the soapbox, it was about an eighth-hearted effort at best. -30-

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 8:20 PM - In contrast to last night, my streak QSO came easily this evening for the 17th UTC. A couple calls to Jurek EA6UN netted an easy QSO on 20M. He was a legit 599+ here. Just before my QSO, he worked KW4JS who is also a NAQCC member and probably was running QRP also, although I don't know for sure.

My poll so far has netted 6 'Other' votes of whom 3 have told me what the 'Other' was. I appreciate that, and hope more 'Other' voters in this poll and future polls will take the time to explain their 'Other' votes.

Here's some feedback on an entry of a few days ago from John N8ZYA, "Hello John, It's nice to see your comment about "walking" every day! It's one of the most beneficial things you can ever do for your health....I've been doing it for years. I used to do some serious backpacking in my younger days, but due to a back injury, have limited it to day hikes now. I've hiked a few hundred miles on the Appalachian Trail, hiked portions of the Allegheny Trail (in WV), hiked on the John Muir Trail in California and the Inca Trail in Peru. I also have about 3,000 K listed with the American Volks Sports Association. One of the big reasons, for me getting into Ham radio, was communications "in the back country areas" of WV. I used to run "portable packet" and once worked the MIR space station while sitting in a cow pasture near Charleston. I used to hike solo all over this state with a HT. It's good to see you still walking for your health. You should keep up the activity for as long as you can.... I can still walk 6 or 7 miles a day, but it will take me all day to do it now."

John is certainly right. I feel a lot better when I get in my 7 miles or so a day than when I have to sit around here at the computer doing the necessary work to keep the NAQCC running plus other things that require sitting, not exercising more than the finger muscles.

Tomorrow will be a memorable day. I have to help Nancy take Joe to the groomer to get his hair (fur) cut so he can stand the hot weather better (if we ever get any - where is it, Algore?). -30-

Monday, June 15, 2009 11:52 PM - Continued poor conditions on 40M this evening. After saying how easy it has been getting a QSO in the 0000-0200Z time frame, I didn't make it tonight for the first time in a long while, so I'll have to get my streak QSO tomorrow morning or afternoon now. I did get an answer to my CQ from AA9WP, but when I went back to him, he had vanished so I can't count that as a QSO.

After a little encouragement with the SF being in the low 70's for several days in a row, the Sun has gone back to sleep again with a SF of 68 yesterday, and 67 today.

My new poll is up and running, and surprisingly with an "Other" among the choices, two folks actually voted for the "Other" AND emailed to explain their choice. WOW! The norm is for someone to vote "Other" without any explanation at all. Maybe the way I phrased the "Other" choice this time had something to do with it.

This was a busy day today, and I'm typing rapidly to get this done. I helped Ange work on his mother's new house for a few hours today, and helped Nancy with some work on her porch and yard this evening. As a result only 3+ miles walking today, and again no fishing. I'll have to learn how to fish all over again if this keeps up. -30-

Sunday, June 14, 2009 9:09 PM - Conditions were rather poor on 40M this evening. I wanted to check into our NAQCC Slow Speed Net on 7122.5 at 0030, but could just barely hear the NCS N3AQC (N3IJR), so I didn't bother even trying to check in as I figured he wouldn't be hearing me either. So I went down the band and called CQ with no results. Then heard N8XMS calling CQ, and answered him for a brief QSO before conditions got us. 30M had a strong FJ/DL1DA, but FJ is still very popular and I couldn't get through the pile-up. I also listened a bit on 6M to see if I could hear any VHF contest activity, but heard nil. Now I've got to go put up a new poll. The 30 or 31 days between polls sure go quickly. -30-

Saturday, June 13, 2009 9:04 PM - Well, I didn't get in any fishing, but I did more or less get back on track with my walking. Right now, my pedometer shows 8.46 miles and 16,258 steps. I also walked a measured mile today, and the pedometer showed 1.02 miles, so I kept a good steady pace of 33 inches. I also counted 100 steps and the pedometer showed 100 steps. I hadn't checked its calibration lately, but it looks like it is still quite accurate.

I was tuning around on 30M in the 0000Z hour, and conditions to EU seemed pretty good even though the EU stations weren't hearing me for whatever reason. I tried a CT7 and an OZ1 with not even a ? response, and no one else was calling, or at least the stations didn't answer anyone else either. I also heard a SM3 and the German weather station around 10.101 was booming in. I did finally work a EU station, although he was operating from Canada - VE1/DL2JRM. So as I've done for a good many days in a row now, my streak QSO comes in the 0000-0200Z time frame. I'd have to go back quite a ways to find a day when I had to wait till later than 1300Z or so to get the streak QSO. Oh perhaps there was one or two days when I purposely waited till a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for the QSO when I knew there was a big contest on, and I was sure to easily get a QSO that way.

Ange's garden is pretty well completely planted now, except for 2 rows of pole beans. My garden is doing great. I've been gradually picking my Siberian tomatoes and having them in BLT sandwiches. And my lettuce crop this year was (is) the best ever. It looks like a picture of lettuce from a high class garden magazine or from some advertisement for lettuce, and tastes just as good, although it probably will be going to seed in a couple weeks and turning bitter. My Early Girl tomatoes are growing nicely with quite a few flowers, and the same for the Potato Top tomato. My first crop of roses were just beautiful, and I just pruned off the dead flowers this afternoon to encourage them to get going with the second round.

Joe had a good time today. Nancy's grandkids were there a good part of the day, and he enjoys playing with them. Also he and I took a couple walks, and probably will take one more in a little while although it is raining lightly right now. Joe is not fond of rain. -30-

Friday, June 12, 2009 9:25 PM - I think besides proving that QRP and CW work and work very well, my streak also proves that no matter how busy a person is, there is still time left to get on the air and make at least one QSO every day.

I seem to be getting to be a busier person all the time, as more and more people seem to depend on me to help them out with this or that. I'm definitely not complaining, because I love helping out anybody with anything I can. As I've said before that is what life is all about.

Today started out helping Ange with the garden. We planted some more peppers and did some preliminary planning for a little storage shed we're going to build in the garden. Then I took Joe for a walk. After that Tom WY3H came over, and I helped him work on a web site he is 'building'. Then another walk and visit with Joe while Nancy was busy with some things. We waited on the porch till she came home, then I took time out for a meal, a walk and some computer work. Nancy had to go out again this evening, so I hung out with Joe again for a couple times. In between those times, I got my QSO for the 13th (UTC). Just came home and got my temperature readings, and now am sitting here writing this.

I haven't even gotten in much fishing lately, but I hope to remedy that soon. Also my walking has been down to 2-3 miles a day instead of my long-term average of 7.3 miles a day. -30-

Thursday, June 11, 2009 11:13 PM - I spent a lot of time today just 'hanging out' with Joe. Bruce went back to Indiana for a couple days and Joe is a little down in the dumps about that, so I tried to keep him company as much as I could. Doing that plus helping Ange with his garden took up a great deal of my day, leaving only enough time to get my routine daily chores done. And that doesn't make for a very interesting diary entry, I know.

I'm happy to see my web site stats picking up again after the Alltel/Windstream fiasco. My weekly average number of visitors has picked up by about 20 over the past couple weeks to average over 100 per day again for the first time in a couple months. That means a greater spreading of the 'gospel' of CW operation which is what we need in this day and age to keep ham radio from dumbing down any further. -30-

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:52 AM - Well, here we go with the promised story. I was working our NAQCC sprint last night. It was warm so I had my window open. About 20 minutes before the end of the sprint, I heard Nancy calling my name. I answered her out my window, and she said she couldn't find the dog (Joe). I immediately went downstairs and over there. When I got there, she had already found Joe. He was upstairs hiding which he does now and then. She was afraid she had left the door unlatched and he got out. I told her I was in one of my ham radio contests, and said I'd come back and take Joe for a walk at 10:30.

When I took him out for a walk, we ran into a cat. As a normal dog, Joe does not like cats. I didn't want him to get into a fight, so I picked him up and moved him away from the cat. However the darn cat followed us and when I put Joe down, he barked and snapped at the cat who spit at him in return. Again I picked him up and headed toward home. Still the cat followed us. I put Joe inside and the cat followed us right up on the porch and would have come inside had I not stopped him.

The cat just would not leave, and it took Nancy and I a while to finally get rid of him. She threw water on him and he ran off, but came back. Another dose of water and he seemingly left. I went inside to check on Joe to be sure he didn't get any scratches. He was fine. I stayed a while, then came back out, and the cat was back. Another dose of water and he ran off. I followed him and caught him. We took him down to the park and released him. He hasn't showed up since, so we hope he has found a good home somewhere, but not around here. -30-

Tuesday, June 09, 2009 11:59 PM - If I had the time to write it, this would be a very interesting entry. But it is late now and I've just come off the sprint followed by a hectic hour and a half dealing with Joe. Everything is fine all around, so don't be concerned. Just tune in tomorrow for what should be a funny story of what happened. I don't know what time I'll post tomorrow's entry either because it is going to be a busy day. -30-

Monday, June 08, 2009 9:50 PM - I spent a good deal of today helping Ange tear down a fence around his mother's newly purchased house. Also we worked on his garden this morning before that, planting some peppers and watering the tomatoes, zucchini, and beans.

I've been enjoying my tomatoes, and have now picked 7 ripe ones so far with another 5 or so still on the plants. Also there are some nice green ones that are developing well, so I may have enough to keep a steady stream of ripe tomatoes to tide me over till my Early Girl tomatoes ripen in late July. I thought the Siberians were just going to give me a dozen or so, then it would be a while before I got any more, but with the warmer weather now, they have really perked up. I just love them in BLT sandwiches, more so than in a salad, because the taste of the garden tomatos and lettuce seems to come through better that way. Incidentally, the 7 ripe ones are a record for this date, so even though I didn't make my May 15th goal, they are producing more than in previous years by this time. -30-

Sunday, June 07, 2009 9:50 PM - Another brief entry today. Actually I guess yesterday's didn't wind up as brief as I though, and maybe today's won't either. However a good portion of the day was taken up by the Butler hamfest leaving me a lot of things to get caught up on. We signed up a few new members and I have to process those applications now. We had at least 15 current members visit and/or work at our table. We got two very generous contributions which will help keep the club running in its accustomed manner. All in all a good day at the hamfest.

And now the rest of the entry I turn over to Paul N0NBD for his comments on D-Day. "Hello John, I also have been thinking today about all of the WWII Veteran friends of my Dad's. I cannot think of a kid that I grew up with that their dad was not a vet. And alas most of them are gone now. My friend Bruce Bright's dad fought and was badly wounded at Bastogne. Tony Mitchel's dad flew supplies over the "hump" in the Burma. Jeff Erickson's dad fought with the marines in the pacific theater. My dad served on a destroyer in the pacific. And the last to come to mind was a ham friend John Sherman that flew B-24 Liberators out of England. There are many others, I suspect I could fill the page. I have been sitting today being thankful for these men and their deeds. I better get as I am about to cry. Have a good time tomorrow my friend! de Paul N0NBD"

You can tell by the comments this was received late yesterday. Those comments are right to the point and very correct in honoring the folks he mentioned along with all the others who helped out on D-Day, as well as all the way through the current efforts to curb terrorism in the world. We hope those efforts never stop, because if they do, the world is in big trouble. -30-

Saturday, June 06, 2009 8:22 PM - Not much time to write tonight. I'm getting some things ready for the hamfest in Butler, PA tomorrow. Tom WY3H, Ethan W3IRS, Mike KC2EGL and I will be starting out around 8AM or so and should have the NAQCC table set up by 9AM if things go smoothly.

I'm also waiting to go over for a birthday party for Nancy's grandkids shortly.

I just got a quick QSO in the Alabama QSO Party for my QSO for the day in case I didn't have time otherwise to get one, although that would have been very unlikely. I hope I don't jinx myself by saying so, but getting a QRP CW QSO a day has always been very easy. Unless I had something to do otherwise, Just about all of my QSO's come easily in the 0000 to 0100Z hour, mostly on 80M in the cold season and 40M in the warm season.

I can't let this entry end without mentioning D-Day. I thought about those brave soldiers who back 65 years ago in 1944 landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. That happened a year before I was born so I have no personal recollection of the event, but that doesn't diminish my admiration and respect for all of those who gave their lives or were wounded in the effort. We always seem to mention the dead and wounded, but my admiration and respect also goes to those who were fortunate and had God watching over them to bring them through safely.

Well, back to work now. I'm making up some code practice CD's to distribute at the hamfest. -30-

Friday, June 05, 2009 6:02 PM - Frankly, in my opinion, there is seldom much of interest in the weekly emailed ARRL Letter. However this issue has two items that all CW operators should read. One is about the High Speed CW Tests, and another featuring predictions of how sunspot cycle 24 is going to turn out when it finally gets started. If you don't get the email newsletter, you can still read it at http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/

Speaking of things getting started, our warm weather here in Kittanning is much like the sunspot cycle - a few teasing days here and there, but no real sustained warm weather yet. It hasn't gotten much out of the 60's here yet in June. It was quite chilly fishing yesterday and sitting on the porch with Joe today. Although with his built-in fur coat, he enjoys the cool weather.

Don't forget the Butler Breezeshooters Hamfest in Butler, PA this Sunday if you're going to be in the area. The NAQCC will have a table set up, and we'd love to meet some current members and sign up some new ones as well. -30-

Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:15 PM - I'm sitting here talking to Tom WY3H on the phone, and we're just discussing what kind of food we should take with us to the Butler hamfest on Sunday. I guess you can tell where our priorities lie. HI.

30M had some good signals on it this evening. PZ1RA was very strong as was the beacon station HP1A?? around 10123. I forget the last two letters of the call now. In fact the HP1 beacon was well over S9.

After yesterday's busy day, I just kind of took it easy for the most part today. I got in a couple good walks and some fishing. I actually caught two fish, as well. That's up to 16 for the year which is around 5 below my average of 21 as of June 4th. -30-

Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:30 PM - I got a lot accomplished today. Never really slowed down until a little while ago. Nothing really worth talking about here in the diary, so I won't. It was a rainy day all the way until a little while ago. When things did slow down, I went over next door to see how Joe was doing. He seemed glad to see me and sat on the chair with me for almost an hour while I talked with Nancy. Then I took Joe out for a walk. That was a nice way to wind down a busy day. -30-

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 8:47 PM - I got a couple comments about the Hoot Owl Sprint, and it looks like conditions weren't all that great and/or activity was down.

Jerry WB0T writes, "Hi John - Just to let you know, condx were poor here in Iowa for Hoot Owl Sprint. I only made three contacts, all on 40 meters. I got a late start, about 10:00 p.m. CDT. Much QRN, and, I suspect, widespread thunder storms. Regarding NAQCC, I have had even worse luck. I need to start at a different time, I suppose. Nice pics of your portable setup! Do you fellas always use straight keys? I usually use an iambic keyer. Also, what time of day do you usually operate your daily qso? I will listen for you, and would like to work you the best way, by accident!!! 72, 73 Jerry WB0T NAQCC # 2489 dit dit"

I hope Jerry doesn't mind me using his comments here. I use a keyer for most of my work, but it is wonderful to use a straight key now and then since that is the way CW was sent for many years before bugs, then keyers, and now (ughh) keyboards came along. Using a straight key in our NAQCC sprints is an absolute delight for me. Also for other occasions as well. As for my QSO of the day, I usually try to get it as soon as possible and that means in the 0000-0100Z hour.

Paul N0NBD wrote, "Hello John, Was glad to read ur report on the Hoot Owl. I am not much of a contester but I got on and listened up and down for you. I only heard 3 stations on 40 and worked all of them. The farthest contact was in MN so I suspect the band was short to work PA. My hours got switched to earlier for the summer and I have to get up and go to work early so I pulled the plug and went to bed. I did send in a report of my "meager" log. Is the home brew tuner behind the HW-9 your tuner from home or another one? AH HA I bet you thought ur readers did not pay attention HI! I like the looks of your home brew tuner. The wood front is NEET. Better get, have dishes to do and better get going. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

As I replied to Paul, the tuner is the original one I used to use in the shack. I now have a different, but similar one. -30-

Monday, June 01, 2009 10:14 PM - Tom and I had a good time last night in the Hoot Owl Sprint with our portable setup at his place in Garretts Run which is a couple miles from my QTH in Kittanning. A couple times we went up on top of a hill on his property for the sprint, but this year we just set up down in the valley near his trailer. He used his HW-8 on 80M and I used his HW-9 rig on 40M. That was the first time I ever used an HW-9 as far as I can recall, unless I may have used his before some time, but I don't think so. It is a nice little rig, and I was impressed with its selectivity and sensitivity.

We just hooked our rigs up to his two random wire antennas and didn't bother with a ground - a very minimal setup but it worked well, and QSO's were made pretty easily when we found someone to work. I did hear Tom's signal pretty well on the HW-9 and when he was transmitting, it was a bit rough for me to copy sigs on 40M. Conversely, he hardly heard me at all, except when I switched to 80M to help him out with a QSO.

There was not much activity in the contest, or at least we weren't hearing much. Also it was getting quite cold, so we quit after about 1 hour and 45 minutes. In fact the temperature dropped to 36 degrees here this morning, which is only 2 degrees above the record low for June in my 50 years of weather records. I would guess it was in the upper 40's when we quit.

I made only 11 QSO's, and I believe Tom made 3 or 4. I could hear Tom's headphones and there was even less activity on his band of 80M than on my 40M band.

We didn't have our deer visit us, although Tom says he does occasionally come down in the valley. However two beautiful Mallard Ducks, male and female did show up and hung around for a while. Tom said they come often, but seemed to stay longer than usual that time - probably wondering what the two of us were up to. Also a beautiful Cardinal came by a couple times.

All in all, I really enjoyed myself even though the activity was low. In fact, I heard a lot more activity in our NAQCC sprint a couple weeks ago. I think our sprints are becoming one of the more popular sprints now, especially among the QRP sprints, and even more popular than a couple QRO sprints.

And to close out now, a couple pictures from last night. From top to bottom, Our operating tent which was set up by me and Tom's twin sons Ethan and Ariel. It was an experience trying to figure out how it went together with a very very poorly written instruction manual which was almost helpless. Tom is setting things up inside the tent. Next Tom operating the HW-8 on 80M, and below that me on 40M with the HW-9. Tom loaned me his Russian key which you can see more clearly in the middle picture. I enjoyed using it with the big knob it has on it. I told Tom I was going to try to find a similar knob to put on one of my homebrew keys.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009 4:21 PM - This has been a very busy weekend, and I could write a long entry about all that has been going on, but because it continues to be busy, I don't have time to do it. Kind of a 'Catch 22' situation, I guess.

Right now I'm waiting to go set up with Tom WY3H for the Hoot Owl sprint this evening.

So in lieu of writing anything else, I'll let Paul N0NBD fill out this day's entry as follows: "Hello John, I enjoyed the lesson on Decoration day. One of the "jobs" I inherited at about 10 was to escort my Grandmother on the weekend before decoration day to mow, chop weeds and prep some of the family ancestors graves. The people were buried in small semi-untended cemeteries in the country... Man it was an all day job to do the mowing. On the next Saturday we decorated all of the graves and attended the Smith-Sanger family get together at Oak Valley Ks. On another note, Your flag from your father's funeral is in much better shape than mine. My flag was from my Grandfathers coffin 1965. I have flown it also except it has been up a pole and not protected like yours. I retired the old flag a few years ago but might consider flying it again in a manner like yours where it is protected. Congrats on the BLT the tomato looks great. I will have a BLT tonight but with a store-bought Roma. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD" -30-

Saturday, May 30, 2009 8:58 AM - I hope everyone has a very good Memorial Day (Decoration Day) today. Yes, I suppose there are probably some who don't even know that today is the REAL Memorial Day when we honor those wonderful brave men and women who have helped and are helping to keep our country free and safe from our enemies. Those enemies have varied over the years, but all have, to this point, been defeated in their nefarious schemes to spread their evil to other parts of the world or within their own boundaries thanks to the efforts of the United States Armed Services.

Unfortunately, as I alluded to here in the diary, now the holiday has been changed (as of 1971) to one of those first Monday, last Monday, etc. deals so instead of taking one day to honor our servicemen, folks can instead have parties, picnics, and other hedonistic activities. And not a thought is given to those who made and make it possible for them to have those events. Nothing wrong with picnics and other such activities, but at least take time to thank those who made them possible, the folks serving in our Armed Forces, past and present.

A few years ago, our NAQCC club president Tom WY3H was instrumental in reviving the Memorial Day parade here in Kittanning after it had been eliminated quite a few years before then. Unfortunately it and the riverfront ceremonies that follow are sparsely attended. However I'm proud to attend each year. I even got a little extra (unneeded) perk this year when one of my photos of the ceremony was published in the local paper.

Briefly, for those who don't know, Memorial, or Decoration (previously), Day was founded after the Civil War in 1868 when a proclamation was made to honor those who served in the Civil War by decorating their graves with flags and flowers. After World War I it was expanded to cover those who served in all wars.

Wikipedia has an interesting article about the holiday, and rather that repeat more info here, I refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day where you can read it. Here is a site where you can sign a petition to bring back the traditional date for Memorial Day - http://www.usmemorialday.org/act.html

Here's a quick snapshot of the flag that draped my dad's coffin back in 1964. I hang it on my porch every patriotic holiday. Yes the star field is backwards on this picture I took from inside, but from the street it is oriented correctly, since that is the position from which the most people will see it.

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Now on to something else. A couple years ago I had my first ripe tomato on May 31st - I had thought it was May 30th, but I was wrong. This year I ate my first ripe tomato in a BLT sandwich on May 29th, beating my record by 2 days. That wasn't the 15 (16) days I was hoping for, but I'm still pleased. And this year, there are 7 ripe tomatoes out there today awaiting placement in a salad or another BLT sandwich. Here's a picture of the makings for last night's BLT sandwich. The lettuce is also garden lettuce which I've been enjoying for a few weeks now.

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Friday, May 29, 2009 9:01 AM - One of the great things about both the Internet and ham radio is that via those methods of communication you can find some very good friends without ever meeting them in person. I consider Paul N0NBD to be just one of many such friends I have here, and I always enjoy Paul's comments (and everyone else's also) on my diary entries.

Paul wrote about the Haddix game and fishing, "Wow, what a great memory and story. My Mom had a memory that was like an elephant. Something would jog her and she would remember the slightest details..... She ALWAYS shook her head and said "Son you have not developed your memory"... On another note your fishing has got better and so has mine. At Big Hill Lake for the holiday weekend, I caught probably 20 fish. Some smaller but a few nice ones, bass, black crappie, green bluegill and sun perch. I will be reading along and wishing you well… de Paul N0NBD ps Oh my tomatos are REAL late compared to yours but a few buds are opening up"

I don't get to do it often, but going out to those lakes can really be fun fishing. With the exception of the crappies, our Keystone Lake about 20 miles from here sounds just like Big Hill Lake out there. I've gone there with friends and caught a mixture of bluegills, perch, and bass that total 30-40 fish in just a couple hours. That is when they decide they are hungry and want to bite. There are times when you can dangle the bait practically right in their mouths, and they just ignore it. Other times they will bite like crazy for maybe an hour, then all of a sudden go into the 'ignore it' mode just like someone threw a switch. Oh, and that is fishing from the shore of the lake. If you have a boat, there are some really big bass to be had. From shore, the biggest I've gotten there was an 18 inch one. I hope that Bruce and I can go out there sometime while he is here. -30-

Thursday, May 28, 2009 9:12 PM - Looks like I'll be eating a garden tomato tomorrow, either in a salad or a BLT sandwich.

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In the end it worked out about as planned. I wanted a ripe one by the 15th, but the cold first two weeks of May caused the plants to more or less go into hibernation. I didn't notice any growth at all during those two weeks. But two weeks after the 15th, here we go.

I gave away my mikrafone (is that how you spell those things?) today after it had sat untouched by human hands in a drawer since the day (9-1-99) it came with my TS-570. Tom WY3H said he needed one of the things, so I was glad to get rid of it since I would never be using it here. We got together to do some preliminary work for our Hoot Owl Sprint portable operation Sunday evening. No big effort planned, just a little fun on his property for a couple hours or so.

Fishing is still not all that great this year. I went this evening, and only got one decent bite that produced an 11 inch sucker. You know, I was thinking about another connection between ham radio and fishing. The fellow who fishes with a boat, fish finder, a few dozen lures, live minnows, etc. compared to someone like me who just likes to take some worms and peanut butter bread and sit along the river somewhere to see what comes along is a lot like the ham who has the big multi-element beam and a KW rig compared to someone like me with my QRP and simple wire antennas. The well equipped boat fisherman and the KW ham are going to outperform me in both activities. However, they won't have any more fun than I am having either way. -30-

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 8:12 PM - I'm sitting here waiting for a couple of things. For Mike KC2EGL to get here after a meeting. We've spent most of the day together, mostly discussing astronomy. Now I'm also waiting and hoping for the skies to clear so we can do some sky viewing with the scope he brought down with him.

30M was really great to EU a few minutes ago. Both the German RTTY station at the low end of the band and S58MU whom I worked pretty easily were both booming in over S9.

Mike and I also did a little fishing today, but 1 small nibble on my peanut butter bread and a couple little hits for Mike were all we have to show for it. -30-

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 11:05 AM - What were you doing 50 years ago today? You probably don't remember - maybe my story here will jog your memory. I know exactly what I was doing then. I was sitting in an old wing-back chair at almost exactly the same spot where I'm typing this diary entry in a different chair. I was playing with one of those toys where you flip a barrel-shaped object with a hole in it that is attached to a stick via a string. The object of the game being trying to catch the barrel on the stick.

That memory however had to be triggered by another memory of something else I was doing at the time. I was listening on the radio to perhaps the greatest baseball game ever pitched. The Pirates were playing at the Braves when they were still in Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta. The stadium was old County Stadium. It was the era when the Braves had a great team with players like Joe Adcock, Lew Burdette, Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, to name a few. That particular evening Lew Burdette was pitching for the Braves, and Harvey Haddix for the Pirates. Haddix had been obtained in a trade with Cincinnati along with 3B Don Hoak and C Smokey Burgess as the Bucs continued building toward their World Series winning team of 1960.

There was nothing out of the ordinary apparent the first few innings of the game. Both Burdette and Haddix had great stuff that night and it was a masterful pitching duel. Along about the 4th inning or so, it started to look like the game could develop into something special. Haddix had faced 12 batters and retired them all. He continued to retire each three batters he faced in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Back then it was strictly taboo for players, even broadcasters to mention that someone was pitching a no-hitter, let alone a perfect game as Haddix had going.

Haddix continued to 'mow them down' through the 8th and 9th innings, and now had pitched a 9 inning perfect game. However Burdette, while not being perfect, was also pitching a shutout, so the game went into extra innings. It was business as usual for Haddix in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. Now it was 36 up and 36 down with nary a runner coming close to reaching 1st base safely by any means.

The Pirates were shut out again in the top of the 13th - I believe Burdette was still piching. Then the game entered the bottom of the 13th - the fateful unlucky 13th for Haddix.

The first batter Haddix faced hit a grounder to Don Hoak at third who mis-played the ball allowing the first Braves runner of the night. More about Hoak in a moment. Hank (or Henry as he seemed to be called more often then) Aaron was intentionally walked and Joe Adcock came to bat. Haddix still had his no-hitter, although the perfect game was lost. Adcock hit the ball out of the park ending the no-hitter also, as well as the shutout. Then came the bizarre event that seems to happen at many great unforgettable moments in history. For whatever reason, perhaps because he couldn't tell the ball was out of the park or had been caught, Aaron stopped on the basepath and was passed up by Adcock. After much confusion, the 'three-run homer' was changed into a one-RBI double and the final score was 1-0.

There was a lot of heartbreak among players, Pirate fans, and a lot of folks who loved baseball although not necessarily the Pirates. Obviously Haddix himself was heartbroken as well, and it is said he just walked the streets of Milwaukee for most of that night after the game ended around midnight.

I have to say a few more words about Don (Tiger) Hoak. Hoak was the epitome of a true baseball player. Unlike the vast majority of players today, Hoak would have played the game for nothing more than the love of the sport. He didn't need a huge salary to entice him. He was perhaps average or slightly above average in skills and talent, but he gave 100 percent of those skills and talent every moment he was in the game, and as far as that goes in his life in general. Modern-day players and non-players as well would do well to try to emulate his life-style. Because of his intensity in everything he did, he was perhaps the most heartbroken person of all because he felt his error ended the perfect game for Haddix. His intensity in life was also shown after his playing days when he suffered a fatal heart attack while chasing his brother-in-law's stolen car. -30-

Monday, May 25, 2009 8:23 PM - It was an honor to be able to pay tribute in a small way today to those who have fought to keep our country free and safe from terrorism. We owe a great deal to them for the effort they have put forth in keeping our country from suffering a follow-up to the attacks of 9/11/2001, as well as the many other times in our country's history they have protected our lives and properties. Let's hope their efforts have not been in vain and our country will remain a free country and safe from attack from without or within. We are living in very troubled times now and must keep our guard up, and our country's military forces strong.

One sad thing today was being handed an American flag with 'Made in China' stamped on the little flagpole. It's sad to see high corporate taxes on American companies and high domestic labor costs forcing organizations to buy foreign made goods instead of those made in the USA. Especially so when it is an American flag.

I did not fly my (American made) flag that draped my dad's coffin back in 1964. I will do that instead on Saturday, May 30, the day that was set aside as the traditional day to honor American war heroes before the holiday was changed to a Monday simply because hedonistic Americans want to be able to party it up for 3 days rather than honoring our heroes for one special day. I hope our foolish government never changes two other great holidays - July 4th and Christmas to diminish their historical and true meaning as they've done with Memorial Day. -30-

Sunday, May 24, 2009 10:12 PM - This was a very nice birthday. Thanks to my neighbors Nancy, Bruce, and Joe (who sent me a card and his picture - really). Also my gardening pal Ange and his family who invited me to a Memorial Day 'feast'. To Tom WY3H for the greetings and card. My cousin Joannie. Also special thanks to Nancy's grandchildren Jeanette, Jeffrey, and Ryan who sang happy birthday to me with Nancy late last night. Also Jeanette and Jeffrey for the pictures they drew for me. Also to the Beatles who unknowingly wrote and sang a song for me many years ago - "When I'm Sixty-four". -30-

Saturday, May 23, 2009 6:26 PM - I've gotten back to playing DOOM again the past few days in between fishing, walking, gardening, NAQCC work, ham radio, etc. I'm particularly impressed with Alien Vendetta, a 32-level full replacement wad that I've been playing with ZDoom. There are some really huge levels with MANY monsters. It also is a real challenge finding all the hidden switches and the three keys. I know a few of you said you also enjoy playing DOOM when I first mentioned it here about a year or so ago. If you'd like to try Alien Vendetta, it's at http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/?id=11790 -30-

Friday, May 22, 2009 9:29 PM - So far we've got one of our closest finishes ever in a NAQCC sprint. I'm currently 4 points behind N8BB pending final cross-checking of logs. I'm happy to be that close to winning since Werner has a big outdoor antenna compared to my attic random wire. Also he is out in Michigan and was able to snare some western multipliers that I couldn't reach with the short skip on 40. Actually the mults are what beat me as I had 11 more QSO's.

Bruce and I have been watching the Iridium satellites and the Space Station passes the past several nights now. I just came in from an Iridium viewing and it was a strange one. There were two flying in formation with one about 3-4 degrees behind the other. The Heavens Above web site only listed one so I don't know what was going on. The leading one was about 2-3 magnitudes dimmer than the other. Anyone with more time to research it or who knows what it could have been, let me know please.

I haven't reported on the tomatoes for a while - mainly because they are progressing very very slowly, although the pace is picking up a bit with the warmer weather. With 9 days left in the month, I'm not sure I'll have a ripe tomato or not before then. The color is changing noticeably though and they are much lighter green now with perhaps a yellow/orange tint starting to show. -30-

Thursday, May 21, 2009 11:20 PM - A busy day processing sprint logs. We've gotten 55 so far. Perhaps we'll break our record of 64. Another beautiful sunny day. I got a chance to take a couple walks, but no time for fishing. Also got a chance to go to the mall with neighbors Nancy and Bruce this evening to do some shopping. When I got home, I had a little difficulty getting my QSO at first as 80 was very noisy and 40 was long. I went to 30 and after listening there a bit, I caught ZF2XP easily.

The best part of the day though was just 'hanging out' with Joe for about an hour and a half. We went for a short walk, then just sat on my sidewalk for a while before going over to Nancy's porch swing where we stayed for about an hour or so just watching life go by, mostly just some birds and some people walking the trail. Joe fell asleep after a time, and it was rough waking him up to take him inside when I had to get going. -30-

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:59 PM - Never got time to write an entry today. Too busy fishing this afternoon and getting a personal record number of QSO's in this evening's NAQCC sprint followed by processing 31 logs received so far. Oh, and also helped Ange with some garden work this afternoon. -30-

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:16 PM - Another beautiful day, and I took advantage of it with walking and fishing. I even actually caught two fish. That's 7 for the year and just about 1.5 below my average at this point in the season. This is about the time when things start picking up and my totals start climbing each year, so I'll have to keep at it to keep pace this year.

I'm sort of looking forward to our NAQCC sprint tomorrow night, and hoping for good conditions. Not really in a contesting mood, but that's when I usually do my best since I don't put any pressure on myself to do well. I just get on and have fun, and most of the time that gives me better results. We'll see what tomorrow evening brings.

I think I have a couple emails that have been sitting here for a while that I should address here in the diary, so let's see.....

N8ZYA wrote about a week ago, "Hello John, I also had an unexpected surprise with yesterdays solar flux at 74. I worked EA6UN in the Balearic Islands, off the Southern coast of Spain. I seem to get within 500 miles of the magic "thousand miles a watt" often when conditions are just right, but just can't seem to pull it off. I'm going to start always using 4 watts from now on when I hear a DX opening. He (EA6UN) was off by himself (14.039) and I didn't hear the other stations he was working. I was using my Icom 703 at 5 watts and my little indoor mounted 18" Isotron antenna. I was just in the right spot at the right time....
I also like watching the ISS pass overhead and the Iridium Satellite flares. I once stood on the riverbank, in front of the eight story apartment building next door. At the appointed time, I jumped up and down a few times, and pointed to the spot where the flare would appear. The brilliant flash of light sparkled in the sky, and all those on the apartment balcony thought I was the local witch doctor conjuring up a vision from the "other side". I got a big laugh out of it! 72's John Smithson N8ZYA / qrp Charleston, WV NAQCC # 2279 FISTS # 13968"

I'm sure the Iridium flares have caused a lot of surprise, fright, awe, whatever among those who have no idea of what they are. There's a -6 magnitude flare from Iridium 76 a little later tonight I'll be going out to catch.

I guess that was the only one to get caught up on. I do have several here commenting on how much they enjoy the NAQCC Newsletter, but those go in the newsletter, not in the diary. -30-

Monday, May 18, 2009 8:35 PM - A gorgeous day today although cold. It started out at 29 degrees this morning and only got to around 60 - well below normal. It should be another cold night tonight, then a gradual warming trend sets in for the next couple days. It should approach 80 by then.

When I was covering my tomatoes a little while ago, it looked like one or two of them are definitely changing color headed toward ripening, so perhaps with the 80 degree days coming up, I'll have a ripe one by next week which will still break my record of May 30th, but not by as much as I had hoped.

Not a lot happening on the bands this evening. I listened to 20 and 30 before going to 40 for my daily QSO. I heard some weak signals on both 20 and 30 that I suspected were DX from the quick exchanges, but couldn't ID them positively except I know one was a Puerto Rican. On 40 I got an answer to my very first CQ from K2MMO on Staten Island.

I've been getting back into watching satellites since seeing the Space Station the other night. Bruce is also very interested in satellites and astronomy in general. So we're going to try to catch a couple ISS passes tonight along with up to 3 Iridium passes.

Another thing I might try for is catching the ISS Tool Bag that was accidentally released by a spacewalking astronaut last November. I had heard about it, but hadn't tried seeing it yet. There is a pass tonight, but not a very favorable one. However on my birthday, the 24th, it passes almost directly overhead and is magnitude 2 or 3 according to the Heavens Above web site. -30-

Sunday, May 17, 2009 8:25 PM - It looks like the SF is stuck at 74. How many days in a row is that now? Let's see... 6 straight days now with a solar flux of 74. Does that mean the Sun is finally through pressing the snooze alarm, or just another little quirk in the numbers? I guess time will tell, as the saying goes.

Another cold May day here as has been the norm for May 2009. Our high was only in the upper 50's and the low tonight predicted by various sources to be between 27 and 32. My tomato plants have their 'blanket' on for whatever comes. After tonight, it does look like a pretty good week with mostly sunny and warmer days. So maybe my tomatoes will have a chance to develop and ripen finally. They are turning that lighter green color which is a forerunner of ripening, so I may still have some ripe ones before the end of the month. I am disappointed I missed my goal of May 15th though. I do have a couple of ideas to try for next year to try to improve things a bit. I'll talk about them when the time comes.

It seems that the final switchover from Alltel to Windstream has come now, so no more email will reach me via the Alltel email address. If anything does bounce, just be sure you have windstream and not alltel in the email address. -30-

Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:08 PM - 40 meters continues to be in good shape in the evenings. I've had a number of solid QSO's the past couple weeks now. Tonight my CQ was answered by W7SAA in Oregon at 0043Z. That means if conditions are the same for our NAQCC sprint on Wednesday evening, our West Coast members should have a good shot at doing well in racking up QSO's on 40 meters, something that is not always possible due to conditions. Even 20 meters has been good well past 0000Z here. I've been hearing quite a bit of activity there although except for the Asiatic Russians a week or so ago, I haven't actually worked much there.

I also heard a blurb somewhere that those who study the Sun are predicting cycle 24's maximum will now come sometime in 2013. That would put it 11 years from the second of the two maximums we had in cycle 23.

In conjunction with the propagation talk, I've added another feature to my propagation page - the latest WWV Geophysical Alert Message. See the bottom of the page for this new feature. It duplicates some of the above info on the page, but is great for just a quick glance at the major players in the propagation game if that is all you desire.

Fishing picked up a bit today. I caught two Carpsuckers early this morning when Bruce and I went fishing downriver a couple miles from Kittanning at a small town called Rosston. That's 5 for the year now and moves this year up to a tie for 7th place now. I was hoping to go again this evening after a shower passed through here, but the shower just kept persisting till after dark. So instead of fishing, I'm going out to try to replenish my nightcrawlers which have dwindled down to just 5 now, although there is not much to show for it. Most have just been nibbled off or lost in a snag or broken line. -30-

Friday, May 15, 2009 9:21 PM - Here it is May 15th and no ripe tomato. I didn't make my goal. The weather was against me. If every day had been like today since I put the tomatoes out, I'd have several ripe ones by now, I'm sure. As it is, it's going to be a struggle to get a ripe one by the end of the month, unless the weather stays as good as today.

Today was sunny with temperatures in the mid-70's - a wonderful day to sit at the river with a couple fishing poles which is what I did. It was nice to just get away from all the work of running the NAQCC for a while. It sometimes seems like that is becoming more and more of a full-time job here. Anyway, I even caught a fish today for a change - a 21 inch carpsucker. That felt good. 3 fish total by May 15th doesn't sound all that good, but comparing it with the 17 other years I've fished since starting the hobby again in 1992 shows 2009 to be tied for 8th best year at this point. 20 in 1997 at this point is tops. The average is 5.7. -30-

Thursday, May 14, 2009 10:39 PM - I just posted my new monthly poll. I delved into the past for this one. We haven't had a poll about antennas in quite a while now, so I brought one back from 2005 to see if things have changed in antenna usage since then. -30-

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:40 PM - I really didn't have anything to write about today till I read my regular Newt Gingrich email a few minutes ago. I read something in there that was so simple, so obvious, and so true, I just want to share it with you. I'll do so in a moment.

I did do some things today. I helped Bruce build a gate for the front porch so Joe could enjoy himself out on the porch with a little more freedom. I also had a computer club meeting this evening and it was rewarding helping a couple folks there learn about their new digital cameras. Then when I got home, I took Joe out for a nice walk. It was just the right temperature for him at about 65 degrees, and he was really stepping along at a good clip.

Now here's what Newt had to say in an excerpt from his latest book, "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours". The 5 can be summed up as follows in this quote from the newsletter:
"1. Dream big.
2. Work hard.
3. Learn every day.
4. Enjoy life.
5. Be true to yourself."

So very very true. In my opinion, the 3rd one is the most important with #2 close behind, and the others nipping at the heels of those two. I absolutely love learning about new things and I believe the moment anyone stops increasing their knowledge that is the moment they start dying. Working hard energizes me, while sitting around doing nothing is what tires me out more than anything else. Work includes both physical AND mental labor. Even though I found that great TV site I talked about, it is very hard for me to sit still long enough to watch a full episode of anything. I have to be doing some kind of work while watching.

If you think about the 5 things, if you do #1,2,3,and 5 then #4 follows naturally. I would find it very hard to enjoy life without following those numbers, in fact.

Absolutely great stuff from Newt, as always. -30-

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 9:55 PM - The bands seem to be getting better and better, but I think it's more because of the longer daylight hours of mid-spring and upcoming summer rather than being due to the sunspot cycle. However the solar flux was at 74 today, and not counting a couple sporadic days here and there, it's been a long time since we have seen 74 or more on a regular basis. We'll have to wait to see if this is just another sporadic day or two or if the average SF is going to start to increase regularly.

Anyway in addition to the Asiatic Russians over the weekend I had a good solid QSO with Milan OK1KW on 30 meters this evening - good enough for a good exchange of FISTS numbers among other info.

Thanks to Mike KC2EGL for pointing out a good passage of the Space Station this evening. I took my neighbor Bruce out and we watched it. He said it was one of the first, or maybe THE first time he's watched the passage of a satellite. It's nice to find someone who is interested in such matters. Now we're going out a little later to try to catch the next passage of the ISS and also an Iridium satellite flare a little later.

Also Mike enjoyed the posting of the link to fanquest.com in my last entry. He also enjoys those kind of shows. Mike and I have a lot of like views on many matters.

Just another note on fanquest.com. They also have a large selection of movies available in addition to the TV shows. The movies overall are not top of the line ones, but there are some good ones there including several John Wayne (another great American hero) movies, Wuthering Heights, The 39 Steps, The Bishop's Wife, and The Hound of the Baskervilles, to mention a few. -30-

Monday, May 11, 2009 9:36 PM - I had a serendipitous day today. I was helping a friend to get his computer up and running, and we finally had to go to a computer repairman to try to get a new power supply for the computer. While we were there, another customer came in to pick up his computer. We started talking and the subject of free TV on the Internet came up. Keeping the story short, he mentioned a site which turned out to be a real treasure. It's www.fancast.com which has many full length versions of some great old TV shows - much better shows than the sex and violence filled modern day TV series which no one with an ounce of decency in them should be watching. But that's another story.

Let me simply list some of the great series that are available on fancast.com. Many of the series have 50 or more full length episodes with VERY limited commercial interruptions. A look at the running times shows probably an average of 50 minutes which means about 10 minutes of commercial breaks have been removed.

OK, here are some of the ones that I particularly like. The A-Team, Adam-12, Addams Family, Batman and Robin, Alfred Hitchcock, Battlestar Galactica, Abbott and Costello, Bullwinkle Show, CHiPs, Casper, Charlie Brown shows, Dark Shadows, Dick Van Dyke Show, Discovery Project Earth, Dragnet, Family Ties, Flintstones, Gilligan's Island, Have Gun - Will Travel, I Spy, Incredible Hulk, It Takes a Thief, Jetsons, Knight Rider, Kojak, Looney Tunes, Lost in Space, MacGyver, Mary Tyler Moore Show, McHales Navy, Nanny and the Professor, Perry Mason, Speed Racer, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, WKRP in Cincinnati, Welcome Back, Kotter, Woody Woodpecker.

Unfortunately, the site also has a lot of the current drivel on it, but the selection above still makes it very worthwhile. After all, being the Internet, you don't have to watch the drivel, just the good stuff like the great ones listed above mostly all from 20 or more years ago. If the children since then were exposed to shows like that instead of the current trash, we'd have a much better country in much better shape. -30-

Sunday, May 10, 2009 9:48 PM - Well, another day has gone by. They sure go faster and faster as one ages, it seems. Seems like I just got up, and here it is almost time to go back to bed again. Let me try to remember if anything noteworthy happened in between.

The big thing today was getting our NAQCC Autologger and Membership Application forms situation solved. Now we're just about ready after a bit of fine tuning to continue with business as normal past July 1st when Windstream ceases to allow use of the cgi scripts on their servers. That's a worry off my back now. I'll not explain it more here since it is written up in the NAQCC newsletter which will be posted on the NAQCC web site this Friday evening.

I did a lot of walking today. My first day over 10 miles in a while now. The temperature in the low 60's was good for walking although the wind would blow now and then making it seem chilly. I took Joe for a walk a little while ago, and he liked the temperature also, even though it is now more like the lower 50's. He was really chugging along at about my maximum walking speed which was good since he needs the exercise.

It looks less and less like I'll make my goal of a ripe tomato by the 15th. My plants have just rebelled at being outside for whatever reason and have refused to grow much at all since I put them out a couple or so weeks ago. They did seem to like the partly cloudy skies today that gave them some sun at times. They haven't had much of that at all so far this month.

And since looking at the calendar and seeing this is the 10th and it's past 2400Z, I've got to go and finalize the NAQCC April challenge results now and make the drawing to see who wins the set of crystals associated with the challenge. -30-

Saturday, May 09, 2009 10:17 PM - Shades of the days when conditions were good on the bands. I had a ball just a little while ago working Asiatic Russia in the CQM contest on 20 meters. I made 6 QSO's, probably more Asian QSO's than I've made in the last 3 or so years combined. The QSO's ranged from an easy one (no repeats) with RZ9IR to a couple that required several repeats (UA9HR, RA0AA). Other stations worked were RK0AB (the most consistently strong of the 6), RW0A (who was my first Asiatic Russia back on July 30, 1995), and RU0AW. It's still a thrill working that part of the world with QRP and an attic dipole even though I now have 108 QSO's with Asiatic Russian stations. Since I checked that, I might as well check and see how many Asian QSO's overall I have. With tonight's QSO's I have 360 now. Not counting 3 JA's in the ARRL DX test this year nor my 6 tonight, my total for the past 5 years (2005-09) was only 6.

I don't really know if that bodes any improvement in propagation or not though, since I also worked Asiatic Russia easily near the last sunspot minimum in the mid 90's.

I also worked California on 30M before going to 20 meters this evening. So it was a good ham radio evening for me. I hope there are more coming soon. -30-

Friday, May 08, 2009 8:30 AM - I just learned that one of my heroes passed away a few days ago. From football player to influential congressman, Jack Kemp was an example of a true American hero who loved his country. I'm proud to have been able to cast a vote for him as both a Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate. Unfortunately he was not a winner either time. He will be missed. Here is what another of my heroes, Newt Gingrich said about Mr. Kemp.

I did check my state-numbers yesterday as I said, and here are some of the results, all with QRP/CW (of course).

Of the 500 possible combinations, I have 380 in my log.

States with all 10 numbers: (13) CA CO FL MA MI MN NC NJ NY TN TX VA WA

States needing one number to be complete: AL-7 AZ-3 CT-5 GA-7 IL-7 MD-0 MO-3 NM-8 OH-7 OK-3 PA-6 WI-7

States with the fewest numbers: ID(2) MT(3) ND(3) NE(3) HI(4) NV(4) WY(4)

States with each number: 4(41 states) 0(40) 9(39) 1,5,6,7(38) 2(37) 8(36) 3(35)

Perhaps it doesn't really mean anything, but I do see a couple trends in the stats. The so-called wintering or retirement states are up near or at the top in different numbers showing that hams from all over the country migrate to these states. Conversely, the cold-weather states are near the bottom of the list seemingly showing few hams migrate to those states. Or perhaps those who do don't operate CW as their hands are shivering from the cold. HI. Also the overall state population is definitely a factor with the highly populated states at the top and the more sparsely populated at the bottom. Yet another factor is the number of QSO's I have with each state. Obviously I work more stations in the East than in the West. Hmmmm, maybe I should co-ordinate my number of QSO's in each state with these stats. Another easy task with my Access log.

OK, I dood it (remember Red Skelton's "mean widdle kid"). Of my 35,255 QSO's with USA states with 5 watts or less, my most worked state is PA with 3,083 followed by CA(2044) WI(2032) IL(1910) FL(1664). All of those plus the next 8 most worked have 9 or 10 numbers. The top 25 most worked have at least 8 numbers.

Going to the other extreme, my least worked state is WY with 53 QSO's followed by ND(58) AK(75) NE(77) ID(77). Of those, all have 5 or fewer numbers. The 10 fewest worked states all have 6 or less numbers.

The lowest ranked state with 10 numbers is WA(25th-412 QSO's), with 9 numbers NM(37-179), with 8 (also NM), with 7 UT(40-162).

The highest ranked state with 5 or less numbers is MS(33-215), with 6 IA(27-400)

I think it's obvious that there are hams with all 10 numbers in each of the 50 states if the FCC database were to be searched. Possible exceptions being Alaska and Hawaii with their more unique prefixes. I think all 10 numbers are being assigned to Alaskan stations now, but only 6 and 7 to Hawaiins. So to get all 10 Hawaii numbers, you'd have to work K3WWP/KH6, W4XXX/KH6, etc. Actually, I'd have to peruse my Hawaii contacts to see if I do have those numbers since I log the KH6 prefix in the prefix field in my Access log instead of the K3 or W4 as in the examples I gave. (OK I just did and added 9 to Hawaii from K9NW/KH6 - results above reflect that addition.)

Anyway, I found it intriguing to research. Now I have to find something else to amuse me today. -30-

Thursday, May 07, 2009 8:42 AM - I certainly want to publicly thank Carl N5XE who took the time to point out that the links on my pages pointing to DX Summit were no longer working. I have now updated them and all the band spotting links should work correctly. Well at least until (if) DX Summit makes another change. Updated and changed URL's are the true bane of webmasters all around the world.

I hope all of you will be like Carl and point out anything you find here on my site that doesn't seem to be working correctly. I just don't have time since I became so involved with the NAQCC to be as meticulous about constantly checking everything on my site.

Now I'm off to do something interesting (there's that word again - maybe I should invest in a Thesaurus - HI) with my computer log. Somehow when I was talking to Tom WY3H, we got into the subject of how call signs no longer for the most part give any clue to the location of a station. You've got W7's in Florida, K3's in California, and so on. I'm going to check to see how many different numbers I have in each of the 50 states and see how close I am to the 500 possibilities. When I was on the phone with Tom I spot checked (it doesn't take long with my Microsoft Access log) several states. I don't remember all the details now, but I know Florida has all 10 numbers and I remember Pennsylvania has all but a '6'. I'll report the results tomorrow here in the diary.

Tom and I will be going to the Butler, PA hamfest on June 7th and setting up a table for the NAQCC. We hope to meet a lot of members there and also sign up a bunch of new members as well.

Also we're about to go public with our plans for the big 5th anniversary celebration of the NAQCC in October. It should only be a few days now before we find out if what we have planned is possible, and it does look pretty good as of now. -30-

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 8:03 AM - For some accurate thoughts about the ugly word 'blog', see http://comics.com/pickles/2009-05-01/

Yet another reason I call this a diary, not that other word.

Besides the fishing episode which took up most of yesterday's entry, I had one other interesting experience then. Joe visited with me for about an hour while Nancy entertained some company. He'd been in my house before, but only briefly. He seemed quite at home although he did show signs of being in a not quite totally familiar environment. He sniffed around and examined things for a while, then sat in my lap a bit. After that he just settled down and laid on the floor or followed me around when I went to the kitchen, etc. I think if it ever does come to pass that I do take over Joe, it will work out OK. I don't know if I ever mentioned it in the diary, but that is a remote possibility depending on what the future holds for Bruce, and Nancy can no longer manage him. I won't let him go to the pound or be taken over by someone who may mistreat him. He was an abused puppy to start life, and I don't want him to have to go through anything like that again. -30-

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:21 PM - Another fishing trip today like most of the others so far this year except I actually got one good bite, and that was all. However that one bite was from a fish who nicely lodged the hook into his lip after devouring the attached nightcrawler. And I wound up with a nice 15 minute battle with a 26 inch Carp. The battle was enjoyed by a friend of mine who happened to be walking by at the time. Well, I say friend, but more like someone I run into quite often while walking or fishing, and we chat a bit sometimes. He walks on his lunch hour and does a little fishing.

Not only was that the first fish of the year, but the first fish ever caught on the telescoping rod that Bruce gave me. It handled very well and made landing the carp fairly easy although I took it easy with the light line I had on the reel to make sure I didn't lose him.

So now the first pitch has been thrown and the fishing game is officially underway for 2009.

As I wrote in the diary back in 2007:

Beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!
We're born again, there's a big carp on the line.
Reelin' him in, headed for shore, it's the first catch of the year;
Anyone can understand I'm feelin' fine.
Parodying John Fogerty's song, "Centerfield" although it wasn't sunny today. -30-

Monday, May 04, 2009 10:07 PM - It's good to see 40M in good shape in the evening hours now. Most of my daily QSO's of late have been on 40M, and it's been very easy to get them. Just a few CQ's brings an answer and a good solid QSO. That's fortunate because the summertime QRN is starting to increase on 80 meters now.

Other than that, not much to report on today. I did some cleaning up around the house and yard. Also I went shopping with my neighbor this evening, and got among other things, my Early Girl tomato plants. I wasn't going to plant as many this year, but they only come in 9-packs now instead of 6-packs. I'll have to see if I can give a few away to friends and/or neighbors. -30-

Sunday, May 03, 2009 9:37 PM - The rain just skirted to the south of Kittanning today and missed us completely so it was a pretty nice mid spring day although a little cool with more clouds than Sun. I got in a good long walk down our 'Rails To Trails' walking path today. I think the first time I've walked that far on the trail since maybe last fall. It felt good to get the little extra exercise.

I also spent a couple of hour-long sessions with Joe today. I enjoyed that and I think he did also. He seems to love temperatures in the low 60's or so which is what we had today. He was more frisky today than he has been since Bruce left on his trip last Wednesday.

Other than that I really didn't do much else today besides my usual fooling around on the computer. I've gotten back to playing Doom again after getting away from it for several months.

Well, just like Friday night, I interrupted my entry by going out for a walk with Joe and Nancy. Being around that dog is just a very relaxing thing for me. When he crawls (jumps) up on my lap and is so relaxed there it makes me relaxed too, and sometimes I come close to dozing off.

I haven't talked much about my tomatoes lately. Since I planted them out a few days ago, they seem to just be establishing themselves in their new surroundings, and I haven't seen much in the way of growth. We need some warm sunny weather if I'm going to make my goal of a ripe tomato by May 15th, and there is not a lot of sun in the forecast for the next 15 days, just clouds, lite rain and temperatures in the low to mid 60s. Well, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. -30-

Saturday, May 02, 2009 8:23 AM - I know many of you reading this are FISTS members, which is great. So you may have already received the following info via the FISTS maillist, but I think it is important enough to repeat it here in case you missed it or are not a FISTS member (why not?).

Do we have any FISTS in the CT area who could help with this? I think it's a lovely idea and very unique, I'm sure George would be pleased.

This is from his daughter - please reply to her or me (nancy@tir.com) if you can help her out. Code speed wouldn't be a factor, so don't worry if you're not a speed demon.


Please take my dad, W1VLK, George Stronach, off your membership list. He died last Nov. We have waited until this coming May 23 (Sat. of Mem'l. Day wknd.) to bury his ashes and have a short graveside service. I would love it if you would help me find a member of the club who would attend and participate in our gathering.

I'm thinking of the member sending the code version of a poem and perhaps one other short writing, line by line after the words are spoken by a member of our family. The service will be at the Village Cemetery in Wethersfield, CT. Thanks for your help. Beth Villa bethvilla1@verizon.

73 88 33
Nancy WZ8C

What a wonderful idea for anyone who loved and used CW during their lifetime. Perhaps this can be the start of something to pay a special tribute to our wonderful CW operators as well as helping to preserve the mode by calling attention to it.

My sympathies to the Stronach and Villa families. -30-

Friday, May 01, 2009 9:40 PM - I got a new band country, band state, band continent, and band zone verified today. And no, I didn't get a large bunch of QSL cards in the mail. In fact, I only got one, but it was for my QSO with KH6MB on 80 meters back in the ARRL DX test in February. That's my first Hawaii, Hawaii, Oceania, and 31 (country, state, continent, zone) verified on 80 meters. Now I need to work and verify Asia to complete an 80M WAC, and Alasksa to complete an 80M WAS. I'm a long way from DXCC and WAZ on 80M though. It's particularly hard on 80M to work long distances because my attic random wire is just too low and a lot of my RF leaves at high angles rather than the low angles needed for good DX work on that band. But hey, I thought I was never going to work Hawaii on 80, and I worked it twice within a few minutes, and almost a third time as well. So who knows.

I'm up to 32 Area Codes worked now towards the FISTS Area Code Award. I haven't been trying all that hard, and only really asking for an area code if someone I work is good solid copy and is copying me well. There's no urgency for me. I just think it's a great idea that FISTS had and I'm having fun with it and helping to publicize the award and hopefully helping others to earn it. If you're both a FISTS and NAQCC member, keep in mind that we (NAQCC) are offering our own award to the first NAQCC member who earns the award by working all the required area codes using only QRP power.

I tried another fishing venture for a while this afternoon and came up totally empty - not even a bite. Conditions were the same as last evening when they were biting good. I went down right after a bout of rain stopped and the outflow from the storm sewer was about the same, but the fish were not there. I guess someday I'll get my first fish this year. There have been 8 other years since 1992 I've still been shut out as of May 1st, so there is hope. In 1997 I had 10 at this point, and last year 9. My latest first catch was in 2002. I didn't get anything until July 7th, but I also didn't fish much the early part of that year for one reason or other including the river pretty constantly being high all spring and early summer. And strangely enough, that year of 2002 turned out to be my best year with 274 fish caught. That was thanks to a great bass year with 222 bass caught mostly in September and October.

OK, I'm back. I just took a short break while we had a pause in the rain to take Joe out for a walk. I guess that's about all I had to say for today's entry anyway. -30-

Thursday, April 30, 2009 9:08 PM - This was an interesting (I use that word a lot because frankly I am not bored or jaded about day to day happenings and they are always fresh and interesting to me in some way or other) day. There is something else interesting - a sentence in which the parenthetical material is longer than the main material.

Anyway Nancy's son Bruce left early this morning to go on a trip for a few days. We were wondering how Joe was going to take it since Joe absolutely loves Bruce and is attached to him like a magnet to iron a good deal of the time when he's here. Joe was down in the dumps quite a bit, and didn't eat for a while, but seemed to be getting better this evening and ate a couple dishes of hamburger and some doggy snacks.

I went fishing after the rain this evening and was out-dueled by a carp or a couple of carp. They were playing with my peanut butter bread acting like textbook carp that the experts claim will grab the bait, but then drop it as soon as they feel any slight resistance to its movement. They did that exactly several times, pulling on the bait just enough to 'run' my reel a little bit, then dropping it before I could set the hook or actually before they hooked themselves which is the way I catch most, if not all my carp. I did get one hooked at first, but then of all things, the swivel part of my snap-swivel broke in two so I lost him. But hey, at least they are starting to bite and have re-ignited my enthusiasm for fishing. I'm looking forward to trying it again tomorrow when we get some breaks after a rain and the storm sewers are running good.

After fishing, I visited my neighbor for a while and found out her grandchildren were coming just when she had to go out for a little while. So I got 'volunteered' into watching the twin 6 (almost 7) year old twins. That was more or less a new experience for me as I can't recall ever doing much 'baby'sitting before. It worked out good though as they are good kids, and I only had to watch for maybe a half hour or so.

I hung around over there for a while after that, and then came over here to get my temperature readings and my daily QSO. The QSO came quickly with one call to OX3XR on 30 meters. I have to check and see if Greenland is new on 30 meters - back in a moment....... Nope, I have OX3FV worked and confirmed there. In fact, I have Greenland on all bands from 30 through 10 meters. Still need it on 160, 80, 40, and 6 though. -30-

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 9:15 AM - Just a very short entry today. Here is why I'm upset about the Windstream/Alltel URL change that cut my visitors way down. You can see this entry in my Guestbook, but I'll repeat it here. Keith W8GX said, "Your site has encouraged me to get going again QRP CW. Thanks!" That's why this site exists, and the more people that visit, the more who may be 'inspired' or 'encouraged' to get back to CW(/QRP), the best amateur radio mode of them all as well as the most efficient. So if you happen to have a web site with a link to my site, be sure it has the windstream URL, not the alltel one. And help me spread the word about the change any other way you can. You'll be doing your part to help preserve and protect CW by doing so. -30-

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 7:02 PM - It looks like the Mars hoax is surfacing again as it seems to do about this time each year since 2003. If you hear or read something about Mars coming very close to Earth on August 27th this year or any future year, just lean back and laugh or whatever it is you do when you hear some grossly inacurate news item. My aren't there a lot of them these days in the Liberal media, but that's another matter.

The Mars hoax stems from August 27th, 2003 when Mars did make the closest approach to Earth in some 60,000 years. However it was nothing like what the hoaxsters (hoaxers?) claimed. Mars was not as big as the full moon in the sky. You couldn't see surface features on Mars in small binoculars, etc. etc. etc.

Close approaches of Mars to Earth occur about every two years, and of those close approaches, ones every 15-17 years tend to be somewhat closer than the others in that 15-17 year cycle. This happens because Mars has a more elliptical orbit than most other planets bringing it quite a bit closer to (~207,000,000 KM at perihelion) and further from the Sun (~249,000,000 KM at aphelion) in the course of its orbit.

Continuing on, Mars is closest to Earth when both planets are on the same side of the Sun, more specifically when Mars rises just as the Sun is setting which is called opposition.

When opposition occurs when Mars is near perihelion, that's when the closer oppositions (every 15-17 years) occur. The one in 2003 occured when Mars was merely one day from opposition and 3 days from perihelion.

However, that particular close opposition was percentage-wise not all that much closer than a lot of other close oppositions over the years, and as a result should not really have gotten the general public so excited, although for us amateur astronomers it did provide a slightly better view of Mars than we had seen before.

Enough for Mars-Earth Oppositions 101. Just remember if you see something that says Mars will be particularly huge in the sky this August, it ain't gonna happen. Even if you live until August 24, 2208 when Mars and Earth get even a few miles closer together than they did on August 27, 2003, you'll not see canals on Mars with your naked eye or binoculars by any means. -30-

Monday, April 27, 2009 9:32 PM - This was another one of those movie days with Tom. He took me over to his place and we watched "What Did You Do In The War, Daddy." And as with every other movie he has picked out for us to watch, this was a good one also. A bonus came in a great dish of spaghetti cooked by JoAnne. So thanks to Tom and JoAnne for a nice afternoon.

Bruce and I did some planning for a 'dog gate' we're going to put on his mom's front porch to keep Joe from running off the porch while giving him a chance to enjoy being outside in the nice weather coming up.

It was in the upper 80's again today for the third day in a row. It sure does feel good. However it looks like we're going to get back to normal again over the next few days now with some rain mixed in as well. -30-

Sunday, April 26, 2009 6:53 PM - Tom, his two sons and I spent about a couple hours at the hamfest today. We didn't see Karl who had to leave before we got there nor Bill who apparently didn't come to the fest. Other than missing those two we had a good time.

I've been meaning to do this, but keep forgetting. Here in PA we have the PA Cable Net which among other things airs an hour program called PCN tours. They are tours of different manufacturing firms in the state. A recent tour showed a factory that makes power supplies for different electronic concerns. Their power supplies are designed around printed circuit boards. If you've never seen how a PC board is produced commercially, you may be interested in watching the show. Fortunately the PCN is on the Internet (otherwise I couldn't watch it) so it's available around the world. Check out http://www.pcntv.com/streaming/streaming.html if you'd like to see it. Click on PCN Tours and select the Acopian Technical Co. tour. These tours only have a limited lifetime of a couple weeks or so before they are replaced by other tours, so don't wait. I was particularly interested to see the guillotine device they use to trim all the component leads on the board at one time.

Paul N0NBD asked about the hoses in my back yard in the tomatoes picture, then figured out himself what they were. If anyone else wonders, they are hoses from sump pumps that pump out any water that gets in the basement in downpours. You can actually see the one pump in the lower right corner of the picture down in the stairwell.

I might take a stab at some fishing again around sunset this evening, so I'm getting this entry written now. -30-

Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:37 PM - Didja ever have one of those days that went by so fast that you figure you must have accomplished a lot, but when you think back you can't really remember much of anything you did? Well this seemed like one of those days to me, but thinking a little harder I do remember doing some things.

Ange and I did uncover the last of the fig trees up in West Kittanning this morning. Once again it was a little hazy, and I still didn't get the real clear pictures I'd like of my house looking down from up there.

After we came home, I took Joe out for a walk and we waited outside for Nancy and Bruce to come home. Then I went for a walk by myself down along the river. It really felt good being outside today as the high was 88 degrees and it was in the 80's most of the day until a couple hours ago. Early this morning you could literally sit and watch the temperature rise on my computemp. It started out around 50 and seemingly hit 70 in maybe an hour or so, then kept on rising a little more slowly.

Late this afternoon after the bright hot sun left part of my backyard, I planted out 3 of my 4 Siberian tomato plants, keeping one back in reserve for a couple days just in case. Here's a look at them in their 'new' home. The one one the right is actually two plants close together.
pix_diary_20090425_01 (108K)

So I guess I really did do something today after all. -30-

Friday, April 24, 2009 9:30 PM - I went fishing for the 4th time so far this year today. Stayed for about 2 1/2 hours and still have yet to get even a good bite this year. The river water is still quite cold, and unless you have a boat equipped with a fish finder to hunt them out, they are not all that active to come looking for your bait. In looking at my records, between about Apr 25 and May 5 is when fishing usually starts to pick up good for the year. As of April 24, my best total was 8 at this point last year. My average at this point for the past 18 years is 1.2 fish caught. So these fruitless trips are really pretty much par for the course.

We came close (if I recall correctly without checking) to setting an all time (1959-present) weather record today. We started out this morning at 32 degrees and sometime this afternoon hit 84 degrees. That's a 52 degree temperature range in one day. I believe we had 53 degrees in May one year. Well, now I'm curious and am going to have to check. No, it was April of 1985 we had the 53 degree range. I see several 52 degree ranges - Apr 1971, May 1979, Mar 1986, Apr 1996, and of course now Apr 2009. Today was the first day we've had a range of more than 48 degrees since that day in Apr 1996. Whatever all that means, I'm not sure, but it is fascinating to me to find out things like that.

Tomorrow it's unburying the last fig tree at Ange's (and my) friend's house up in West Kittanning. Of course Sunday then is the hamfest I mentioned previously here in the diary. -30-

Thursday, April 23, 2009 7:46 PM - It's really looking a lot like spring now, and tomorrow it will start feeling like summer for a few days. I see predicted temperatures as high as 86 degrees for this weekend in one of the 3 or 4 weather services I monitor regularly here. Today was a variably cloudy day or actually a day of decreasing cloudiness as the trend in the variability was steadily downward all day and it's just about perfectly clear right now at sunset. It wasn't all that warm today though, at least compared to what is coming. Probably the upper 50's was as high as we got today. However that was good walking weather and I put in around 6-7 miles or so. I also had a nice long walk with Joe. His stop, sniff, and go style doesn't register accurately on my pedometer, but I'd say we did about 3/4 mile or so. Later in the day I got some nice pictures of the spring foliage and flowers around town, mostly in the park. The foliage and flowers should be really nice after this weekend.

Just a few minutes now before 0000Z and going up to the shack to get my daily QSO. If I get a quick one, I may go out for another walk.

I'll just mention again that Tom WY3H and his two sons Ethan (W3IRS) and Ariel (soon to be KB3???), Karl N3IJR, Bill KB3XS, and I will be at the Two Rivers Hamfest near McKeesport, PA on Sunday if you'd like to stop by and say hello. -30-

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 8:39 PM - I get mixed feelings when I'm talking with someone and start to tell them about something I did, and they say something like, "I know, I read about that in your diary." or "Yes, you mentioned that in your diary." I sometimes wonder if there is anything I can talk to them about that they don't already know. But then I'm honored and humbled that so many folks find these ramblings in the diary interesting enough to actually read them AND remember them.

That happened today when Mike KC2EGL dropped by for a short visit. At any rate, it was nice to visit with Mike and also do one of our favorite things - eat. We both got our money's worth at the buffet at Ponderosa. I always wonder if they had a chance to see me coming, they might consider shutting down and locking the doors. I love to eat, although you wouldn't know it to look at me. I can outeat a good many folks a lot larger than I am.

Today was Joe's birthday, or at least his estimated birthday. I know he didn't appreciate nor understand, but I thought it was kind of neat to spend some time with him on his 4th birthday. Bruce and Nancy were both in and out a lot today, so I went over and kept Joe company on his special day. We also took a good long walk when the weather cleared up this afternoon. It was just about perfect walking weather for both man and dog. I think I may go over and visit him a bit more after I go out and get my weather readings in a few minutes. -30-

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:11 PM - It was a real joy tonight to have my 40M CQ answered by W2LJ. Larry and I have been friends on the air for several years now, and he has also been very instrumental in the growth of the NAQCC. He started on his own publicizing the club and did such a good job, we 'hired' him as our publicity director. He continued in that capacity until he changed jobs and had to cut back his publicity efforts.

Larry has an interesting web site - http://w2lj.blogspot.com/ - actually a blog... uhh, hate that word, so I'll say diary similar to mine here in which he discusses many varied subjects. I think you'll find it interesting also if you enjoy mine.

He recently ran a poll on his site about membership in QRP clubs and our NAQCC was the top vote getter. He's going to send me a summary of the results for our NAQCC newsletter which will be 'published' this Friday evening on the NAQCC web site.

He also told me that I inspired him with my tomato stories to start his own tomatoes from seeds which he did back at the end of February.

And since I brought up the subject of tomatoes, here is a picture of the progress here.
pix_diary_20090421 (49K)

And a picture of my single tulip that has been around now transplanted in at least 3 different places for the past 30 years or so. It didn't look too good for a few years a little while back, but now is doing much better.
pix_diary_20090421_03 (30K)pix_diary_20090421_02 (20K)

To finish, here's a picture of a (double) rainbow from earlier this evening.
pix_diary_20090421_04 (23K)


Monday, April 20, 2009 9:01 PM - 30M was good again this evening. I worked C6AAA pretty easily and heard FG/F5??? (I forget the call now), but didn't work him. Although the Caribbean and Central America are good, I haven't heard much DX from anywhere else and the German RTTY station around 10.101 hasn't been very strong at all.

I'm just awaiting a phone call from Tom WY3H. He and I are going to the Two Rivers Hamfest near McKeesport, PA on this coming Sunday. If anyone reading this is close enough to come, we'd like to meet you. Do a Windows Live search for Two Rivers Hamfest for info.

I've got a lot of pictures I'd like to add to my SkyDrive site, but just not finding time to do it. Got some nice pictures of the tomatoes today. The biggest ones are about 1 inch in diameter now. The plants are just full of flowers and tomatoes of varying sizes and stages of development.

Well, better get this uploaded now, and after talking with Tom, I've got to get started on this weekend's NAQCC newsletter. -30-

Sunday, April 19, 2009 9:52 PM - I had some fun working DX on 30M this evening. Nothing spectacular by any means, but it was still nice to work TI7KK, CO6CAC, and H6VA. The H6 may be a new prefix, but I don't think so. I'll check later on and see.

30 meters has been getting better of late in the evenings with the later sunsets now. Another sign of improving conditions there is Steve NU7T winning our NAQCC 30-30 award by making 30 30M QSO's in a month, and he did it this month with 11 days still remaining.

So take heed and get on 30M when you can. You don't know what you'll find, but I know it will be better than it has been for some time now. Thanks to Don VE3HUR and Frank W9WOC for info about the death of Peter Rogers, the producer of the British comedy "Carry on...." movies. I emailed Frank and Don to thank them, but Frank's email bounced so I'll thank both publicly here. -30-

Saturday, April 18, 2009 10:17 PM - We finished up all of Ange's fig trees today. We took some pictures of the digging up today, and I'll probably post them on my SkyDrive pictures site, but not right now. I'll let you know when. Or you can go to SkyDrive now and look at the pictures (Gardening-> My Friend Ange's Garden -> Fig Tree Burial) from the burial we took a year ago last October or November and look at them in reverse order. HI. That took up most of my time today, but it was great to get all that exercise, and then I felt like getting even some more so I took a couple of walks in the evening for 3 miles or so. The weather was beautiful today with sunny skies and mid-70's temperatures.

Looking back, I guess that pretty much sums up my day and there's really nothing else to comment on. -30-

Friday, April 17, 2009 10:50 PM - This was a busy, rewarding, enjoyable day. If every day were like today, I'd be tired, very satisfied, and very happy, I guess. As a result of it being a busy day, it's late now, and I'm not going to write a whole lot about it because of that.

As usual, it was nice to take a couple walks with Joe. Then I also helped Bruce with a couple things on the computer, after which we combined our efforts to try to beat the computer at chess. In a suspended match, we're currently holding our own, but probably will wind up losing when we get a chance, maybe tomorrow, to finish the match. He had to leave to go somewhere with his mother.

While we were playing chess, Ange called and wanted me to come help him un-bury (ressurect?) the two fig trees at his house. I went there after Bruce left and I had my supper. I got in some good exercise throwing dirt around and helping to lift up the trees to their standing position. We got that done in an hour and a half or so. Tomorrow we'll do the same to the fig trees in the garden he has near my house, so some more good exercise. It gives the body a good feeling doing work like that. More people should get away from their couch potato habits and get in some exercising.

Then after a walk, a snack, and my daily QSO, I went over next door to see if Bruce wanted to do some stargazing. He did, so we took out my scope and had a very good time. It was great to show the stars to someone like Bruce who was really very interested in the whole process. So many people look through a scope and it's easy to tell they don't really care about what they are seeing beyond 'it looks nice'. Bruce however wanted to know something about each object we viewed. We were both awed by Saturn. I mentioned in the diary back in December how I took my small scope out to see Saturn with its rings nearly edge on. Well, they are still quite close to being edge on now (and will be pretty much so through the end of the year), and my first glimpse of Saturn tonight was truly spectacular. We went back to it several times just for another look. The final look after seeing had become better and the optics adapted to the cooler temperature outside, and using a higher power objective showed much more detail to the planet and the rings. The opening between the rings and Saturn caused by the slight tilt to edge on showed clearly now, and also a few of Saturn's many moons were visible. -30-

Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:03 PM - I am totally disgusted at this moment. I've just learned that apparently Windstream has now decided to not host cgi scripts which means our NAQCC Sprint Autologger will no longer work after July 1, 2009. That also means a couple other things I have going through their cgi scripts will probably cease working also. That's all I have to say tonight. I just don't feel like writing anything else after that. -30-

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 10:52 PM - Wow, was that a great sprint last night. Sure kept me busy processing logs. I think right now we're at 57 logs submitted so far just over 24 hours after the sprint ended. Our record is 64 so if you're reading this, and participated last night, either accept my thanks for sending in a log, or get busy and send one in, as the case may be. HI.

I had my second greatest number of QSO's in one of our NAQCC sprints with 43 good solid QSO's. Last May I had 44. I could have topped that with 45 this month had WA9VEE been able to finish 2 QSO's with me, one on 40, and one on 80, but he just couldn't copy me. Everyone else copied me easily and I copied them equally well.

The bands also seemed good this evening. I got an easy QSO on 40M with WD0CNZ in Missouri, then went to 30M and found several good signals there although I didn't work any of them. The later sunset is helping the bands now in the 0000-0100Z hour which is usually when I get on for my daily QSO. -30-

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 10:16 AM - With our NAQCC sprint being this evening and a few other chores to get done later in the day, I'm writing this entry early in the morning.

If conditions are good this evening, I'm looking forward to perhaps a record number of participants in our sprint. For those who can't operate 80 meters for whatever reason, 40 and 20 should be in good shape throughout much of the two hour time frame since the Sun sets much later now. Those of you on the west coast particularly should be in good shape on those bands. I hope to see you there this evening.

Also this evening before the sprint starts, I'll be posting a new poll here on the web site. This will be an informational poll for me to learn just how you get to my site. Hopefully I can analyze the results to see how best to handle any possible future forced change of my URL by Windstream. I hope you will vote, even though it may not be quite as interesting to you as to me. -30-

Monday, April 13, 2009 9:05 PM - It looks like my number of visitors to the web site is starting to creep back up again as the alltel to windstream change gets more widespread amongst all the favorites, bookmarks, links, etc. out there. Still the URL change really set me back about 30 percent in site visitors over the past month. That saddens me because I know so many hams have come back to CW in part due to my web site. Also a lot of hams depend on it for other things as Neal WA6OCP states so simply in an email I got today - "John, I love the new addition of the Solar-Terrestrial Data box. This page just gets better and better. Tnx es 73, Neal WA6OCP"

My tomatoes are still growing very nicely. I would estimate the largest tomatoes are now just over 1/2 inch in diameter, and the plants are just loaded with a couple others around that size and a multitude of smaller ones. My Q-tip pollination seems to be more effective this year than the past couple years for whatever reason.

I've also been very careful about watering them this year. I weigh the plants regularly, and when they reach a certain point, I add water to them. It seems that right now about 20 ounces is the dry point, and I add about 20 ounces of water to that, and drain off around 4-6 ounces of that as it soaks the ground and exits through the holes in the bottom of the pots. This is the first year I've tried such a precise method of watering, and it seems to be paying off. -30-

Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:33 PM - I had a quiet Easter day, and liked it. I didn't really do much of anything to talk about here. Just my usual walking both alone and with Joe. I also did some chores around the house. Then this evening I checked into our new NAQCC Slow Speed Net on 80M. I was happy to see the second session did better than the first one last week. We had 5 folks present on the net this evening despite it being Easter and conditions being not all that great. -30-

Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:55 PM - Well, this day went by rather rapidly and is almost over now. The weather was just about perfect for walking so I racked up around 12 miles today on three separate walks plus a couple of walks with Joe. I also watched a WW II movie with my neighbor Bruce this afternoon and visited there again this evening for about an hour or so. All of that pretty much ate up the day, leaving little time to write about anything here again. So I'll just repeat my wishes that you have a wonderful holiday celebration, be it Easter or Passover. -30-

Friday, April 10, 2009 9:39 PM - A pretty much all-day rain made for a dreary day. Some appropriate weather for the solemnity of Good Friday. On the other hand, the glorious day of Easter is going to be a bright sunny mild day, again appropriate for the occasion.

The day was good for doing chores inside, and while that doesn't make for much to talk about in the diary, at least I got caught up on some things.

I haven't presented a "Why is it that...." here in quite a while so here goes. Why is it that often when someone emails to say they have a new email address, that is all they say. They don't say who they are, or even give their old address. The result is a meaningless bit of info. I got one of those today, apparently from one of our NAQCC members since it came to the club's email address, but I haven't a clue which member sent it.

I guess that's about it for today's entry except to say that I do hope all of you have a very blessed and happy Easter on Sunday. Or a happy Passover to those celebrating that at this time of year. -30-

Thursday, April 09, 2009 9:59 PM - Not a lot to report today. I took Joe out for a couple walks in the nice weather and went for a couple other walks myself.

Other than that, I combined with Bruce to play a game of chess against the computer chess program. We still got beat, but at least we prolonged the agony for many more moves than when we played more or less individually against the program a couple days ago. -30-

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 10:03 AM - I've got three matters to get caught up on today, and I have a computer club meeting this evening, so I'll do the diary entry early today.

1. Paul N0NBD emails, "Sorry to hear of your frustrations on the link change. For 2 weeks I have not been able to access my web site. The web master answered my emails after a week er so and got his server to "know" me again. My provider had changed my IP address it seems. Anyhow, I am sure your followers will be back. Man the wx this weekend seemed like March with 25-40 mph winds and cold. Maybe it will straighten out and be fishing wx now. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

2. I got a picture of my little tomatoes this morning. You can see two of them just about in the center of the picture. The bigger one to the left has a reflection from the flash on it.
pix_diary_20090408_01 (53K)

3. Trivia answers. I was disappointed no one sent in any guesses to any of the questions. Perhaps the URL change contributed to that. Anyway here are the answers:

Most appearances with no opening round losses: Auburn - 7

Most appearances with only one opening round loss:
North Carolina - 23 (1999 to #14 Weber St)

Most appearances never getting out of the opening round:
North Carolina A&T - 6
Iona - 6
NE Louisiana - 6
Nebraska - 6

Most appearances never getting beyond the second round: BYU - 13

Most appearances never getting beyond the elite eight:
Temple - 18
Purdue - 18

Most times making it to the final four without advancing further:
Oklahoma St - 2

Fewest number of appearances by a team that won a championship:
UNLV - 11 (won in 1990)

Keep in mind those questions and answers only include the tournaments that had a field of 64 teams. See the original questions back on the entry for March 31 and April 2. -30-

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:01 PM - OK, who's the wise guy who turned the calendar back two months? It's been snowing off and on all day here. Fortunately the ground has warmed up enough by now that it's not sticking or sticking just for a few minutes in the heavier flurries. We didn't get too far above freezing for a high temperature today unless it was warmer at midnight last night and our high for the day occured then. I'll know in a few minutes because after I type this and upload it, it's time to get my daily weather readings.

At least my tomatoes don't mind the weather since they are inside. I've definitely got some little tomatoes started on the plants now and my pollination was definitely a success. I tried taking a picture today of the biggest one, but the foliage was in such a way that I couldn't get the camera in a good position without disturbing the plant. Maybe in a couple days when the tomato gets a little bigger I can get a photo and post it here.

I mentioned about the AC6V site yesterday. Well, today the links on his site showed up as being changed when I checked and my number of hits picked up yesterday and today, so the word is getting around about the change now. Still the first hits on some search engines still show the old alltel URL's, but nothing I can do about that. They will just have to 'wear off' as time goes by. -30-

Monday, April 06, 2009 9:43 PM - I did something today I haven't done in many a year. Played some Chess. I learned my neighbor Bruce was a chess player and asked him if he ever played against a computer. He hadn't, so I said I'd try to find and download a good chess game. So after he came over and did some of his work on my computer, we searched around and finally found a decent free chess game, installed it, and played one game each against my computer. Mr. Computer beat both of us rather handily. As far as I can remember, except for maybe a couple games against the computer in the mid-1990's, I hadn't really played any chess since I was a teen-ager back in the 1950's and 1960's. If you're curious and want a simple free chess game, it's called Chenard and available via http://www.intersrv.com/~dcross/chenard.html. It's an old program ca. 1999, but runs fine on my XP SP3 computer.

I've been having success hunting down links to my site and asking the webmasters to update them to the new Windstream URL. Probably over 50% have responded telling me they have updated the link. That's more than I figured on, so I'm going to do more as time goes by.

The one site I really want to update the links is the AC6V site. The webmaster acknowledged my request, but so far I haven't seen any links there that have been changed. I used to get a lot of visitors via the AC6V site, and I think once it's updated, my totals should take a nice jump. -30-

Sunday, April 05, 2009 9:26 PM - I'm getting more and more frustrated by this Alltel/Windstream situation. My site visits are at their lowest level in several years for several reasons due entirely to the change of URL by Windstream. In the first place, it seems a lot of visitors who do wind up here somehow do not know how to update their favorites or bookmarks to reflect the URL change. I've had warnings up about the upcoming change at least several weeks before the change took place - ample time for regular or semi-regular visitors to make the change, but for whatever reason, they didn't and now can't find their way back here.

Secondly, searching for K3WWP in a search engine turns up hits for both Alltel and Windstream URL's. As of a few days ago, Windstream did put up a page explaining the change to anyone who clicks on an Alltel link, but I wonder how many folks understand that and are making the change in their favorites or bookmarks or ignoring the Alltel links on the search engine results and only using the Windstream URL's. I don't think too many.

Then there are the links on various web sites that still have the old Alltel URL's. Many of those are on 'dead' web sites and will always remain that way until the host that controls such sites realizes they are dead and removes them.

I have had some success searching for sites that link to my site and notifying the webmasters of those sites about the change. I thank those who have now fixed the broken links. However with perhaps as many as a few thousand pages having links to my site, that is a Herculean task that I can never hope to complete.

I now wish I had been able to afford to buy my own domain name when I first started the site. It's too late now, and anyway I still can't afford it since I don't make one red cent from this web site, and I have no intention of ever doing so. It will always be totally free to anyone who visits here, and I will also never accept any advertising on my site as I don't believe web sites should have their content ruined by ugly advertising.

The bottom line is I guess I'll just weather out this latest storm and hope for my visitors to find their way back as they did a few years ago when Alltel changed URL's from www.alltel to home.alltel. However I believe this current change has been much more damaging than that one was. -30-

Saturday, April 04, 2009 8:48 PM - And then there were 3. Connecticut has just been eliminated by Michigan State who will play the winner of the North Carolina-Villanova game which I'll be watching in about a half hour or so.

Getting caught up on some diary comments now. About a week ago Paul N0NBD emailed, "I am amazed at the growth of your tomato plants. Wow! but they have shot up. I fully understand about Joe and the eyes. My little Burt looks like a bologna with little stumpy legs. When I just give him his fit and trim dog food and a couple biscuits he slims down... But then he throws those eyes on me and whines a little and here comes the extra treats!!!! The wx has changed here also. I had to re-fire the boilers and pumps at the campus as the buildings were about 60 degrees in the mornings... Not too conducive to learning when there is shivering going on hi. CUL John, will go fishing on Friday my day off if the wx is not too cold. De Paul N0NBD."

Geo N1EAV emailed about the movie "Million Dollar Baby" I mentioned, "Hi John..... Hope all is well with you. Looks like spring is finally upon us. I've seen that movie 3 times and it still gets me teary eye'd. Pretty good flick. If you like Clint Eastwood, try to see Gran Torino. Came out not too long ago and is another good flick. Enjoy the day.......73,geo n1eav"

Chas W2SH emailed this on April Fool's Day, "Malicious code attacks SSB operators worldwide.
A new threat has emerged to single sideband communication worldwide, as malicious code spread by an ingenious method shuts down phone operation for ham radio operators who are unfortunate enough to simply tune across the amateur radio bands.
It was hitherto assumed that malicious code, something so common in the world of computer security, could not affect amateur radio equipment set up to run single sideband.
A victim falls prey to the malicious code by tuning through the ham radio bands and encountering a simple audio sequence, which, if it reaches the element of that transceiver's microphone, disables the SSB mode function, rendering the radio unsuitable for single sideband communication.
Spokesman Charles B. Handel, N0DITZ, of the Frozen Knob, Idaho SSB Society, lamented, "We always suspected that the Morse code people were out to get us, but no one ever thought that they would stoop this low. Everyone has a right to operate the mode of their choice, and we are danged ornery over this."
Unnamed experts from the United Nations Telecommunications Authority refused to comment, other than to say that this is the first known instance of Morse code behaving like malicious computer code.
Handiham.org has captured the offending audio sequence, but you are warned that if you play the audio near a single sideband transceiver that is turned on, even though the microphone button is not pressed, your radio may be infected by the malicious code. Be sure to turn off all radios before listening.
Listen to the malicious code sequence here: http://handiham.org/audio/codefile.mp3
Warning: Side effects of Handiham.org audio are CW gravitation, microphone vexation, talkwarts, codefinger, and enhanced DX.
Cheers, Chas., W2SH"

Tom WY3H emails this info about our Sun's long nap, "Hi! I thought you'd be interested in this story from Science@NASA: How low can it go? The Sun is plunging into the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/01apr_deepsolarminimum.htm?friend"

One thing I haven't gotten any emails about are my NCAA BB Tournament trivia questions. Maybe I made them too hard? Anyway, whether or not I get any responses I'll give the answers here after the Monday night final game between Michigan State and ?. Oh, and here's a bonus question. Which team winning a championship sometime in the period 1985-2008 has made the fewest tournament appearances (11) in that time span? -30-

Friday, April 03, 2009 10:47 PM - I think my pollination efforts were successful. Several of the flowers on my tomato plants didn't open up today or yesterday. That usually means there is a tiny tomato starting to develop. Too tiny to see as of yet. I checked my photos from 2007 when I had my first ripe tomato the last day of May, and the plants didn't reach the stage they are at this year until around April 17-18, so I remain about two weeks ahead this year, and the May 15th goal could be reached.

I got a couple good ham-related emails I want to share, but I'll put that off till tomorrow. I just got home from my neighbor's. I took Joe out for a walk, and when we came back inside he jumped on my lap and went to sleep. As that was happening I got hooked on a movie she was watching and she told me to stay and watch it if I wanted to, so I did. Now it's getting late and I've got some things that still need doing before bedtime. -30-

Thursday, April 02, 2009 10:00 PM - 46 years ago tomorrow (April 3, 1963) I received my KN3WWP Novice call. Actually that was the date on my license. I didn't actually receive the license until a few days later, but I consider April 3 to be the start of my ham career.

My first QSO came on April 8 when I worked my friend in town who got his license with me. He wound up with the call KN3WWW. As far as I know, he never advanced beyond Novice, and someone else holds the call K3WWW now. It's ironic because he was much more gung ho about getting a license than I was at that time.

I was going to high school at that time and didn't have much time for ham radio for a while and with the exception of another QSO with KN3WWW the next day, I didn't work anyone else until April 21 when I worked K3HGD, another local ham here in Kittanning.

My first out of town QSO came on April 22 when I successfully logged WN9GAR in Wisconsin. One more QSO with WN8DOC in Michigan on the 28th closed out my first month as a ham with just 5 QSO's.

I didn't get another QSO until May 9th when I made contact with W9RQF. Frank was a veteran ham who delighted in roaming the Novice bands helping out newcomers to the hobby. I worked him several times when I was a Novice.

After that, partly because of his encouragement, the QSO's started coming more and more regularly, and when school left out in late May or early June, I had a flood of QSO's filling up my logbook.

Near the end of summer, I passed my General license easily and moved out of the Novice bands. This opened up a whole new world of ham radio to me. Although then, as now it was a CW-only world. Any other mode never interested me at all.

I kept very active up until I started to work at WPIT in 1969, having moved up to Extra in 1968. A couple years after that, I made a QSO on December 4, 1973 with WA8ELT which would bring to an end my first of 3 periods of activity.

I wouldn't make another QSO until June 17, 1981 when I fired up my rig again to work W8VUV in Cincinnati, Ohio on 80M. This period of activity lasted until a QSO with WA8FTT in Chillicothe, OH on 40M on September 23, 1983. As I mentioned elsewhere on the web site, it was during this time that 30M became available to hams, and a large percentage of my QSO's were on that band during this time.

Let's jump ahead now to February 15, 1993. WPIT had been sold and all employees released. It was also the time when my mother needed someone at home to help care for her and my aunt who lived with us. So I retired and became a caregiver and helper at home. As I've told several times, my neighbor and friend Eric encouraged me to become active again because of his interest in ham radio which had just started. So on that date we got my station resurrected for a second time and I worked K3DQ in Lutherville, Maryland to start a third period of activity which continues to this day. Actually June 1993 through January 1994 proved to be quite inactive though because of some back problems that had me pretty well laid up during that time frame.

That pretty much is a nutshell description of the time frame of my ham career. I could have gone into much more detail, but a lot of that is already on the web site in different places, so I won't be redundant here. -30-

Wednesday, April 01, 2009 9:48 PM - The weather tried to fool us this morning with a rain that looked like an all day soaker, but it stopped around noon and turned into a very nice spring day. I had two nice walks by myself for about 6.5 miles and another shorter one with Joe.

I also did some painting on my back steps. So I was outside quite a bit after the rainy morning. That also included a trip downtown to take care of some first of the month financial matters.

In between all of that, I put the March weather data into my weather spreadsheet, and found out that March was about 2 degrees above normal with about half the normal precipitation. I don't keep track of snow here, just its melted equivalent precipitation. However I can't recall any snow during March other than a couple of very lite flurries that didn't accumulate. That's unusual for March at this location. We usually have some pretty good snowfalls in March although it is generally gone in only a day or two. I recall the blizzard of 1993 when we had 2 feet of snow and just a very few days later you wouldn't have known it snowed at all.

The flowers on my tomatoes are wide open now and I've been buzzzzy pollinating them with a Q-tip. Too early to tell yet if the pollination was successful. I haven't checked my pictures from previous years to see if I'm still ahead of schedule, but I suspect I am still 10-15 days earlier with open flowers this year.

I see Windstream has now posted an explanation page about the changeover from alltel to windstream URL's. Seems it pops up whenever anyone tries to access an Alltel.net domain web site. Click here to see it. It has a good explanation of the situation with instructions on how to change your favorites, etc. -30-

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 10:09 PM - Time for a little NCAA BB Tournament trivia. If you want to send your guesses or if you know the answers, you're welcome to let me know.

All questions pertain to only the 1985 through 2009 tournaments, that is when the field consisted of 64 teams. Before 1985 the fields were smaller than 64.

1. What team has the most appearances (7) without ever losing in the opening round?

2. What team has the most appearances (23) with only one opening round loss?

3. Which 4 teams have the most appearances (6) without ever winning a game?

4. Which team has the most appearances (13) without ever making it to the Sweet Sixteen?

5. Which 2 teams have the most appearances (18) without ever making it to the Final Four?

These questions were culled from my Excel spreadsheet in which I have a lot of stats computed from all the brackets from 1980 to present. When I get time I plan to go back further and eventually get all the tournaments back to the first into the spreadsheet.

I updated my computer O/S to Windows XP SP3 today. Another smooth as silk update from Microsoft. I had been wondering when I was going to be fed SP3 through Microsoft Update, and it finally came today. I wasn't getting it before, I believe, because I was using Internet Explorer Beta versions. Updating to IE8 RC1 recently put me into the queue. -30-

Monday, March 30, 2009 5:53 PM - I got a little feedback about movies from yesterday's diary entry, so I think I'll just mention some of my favorite movies today. This is right off the top of my head and since I haven't really done much movie watching for 15-20 years, I'll probably leave out a few, but probably since I remember these, they are right at the top of my lists.

Westerns - High Noon with Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly. The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brenner and a cast of wonderful classic Westerns actors. Warlock with Tony Perkins. Shane with Alan Ladd, Brandon DeWilde.

Sci-Fi - All the Star Wars movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Magnetic Monster with Richard Carlson. The Day the Earth Stood Still with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal (?). War of the Worlds with Gene Barry.

Adventure - Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart (probably my favorite actor). Raiders of the Lost Ark and other Indiana Jones movies. Many other Bogart films. The Third Man with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. The Great Escape with Steve McQueen (another favorite actor) and many others. The African Queen with Bogart and Hepburn.

Christmas - It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Several of the 2 dozen or so versions of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) with the Alistair Sim one being the best in my opinion. We're No Angels (comedy) with Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov as the 'angels'.

Other - The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, etc.

Comedy - It Happened One Night. Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. All of the British "Carry On..." movies which I think I did mention once here in the diary. Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant.

OK, I did cheat and refer to the IMDB list of their top 250 movies to jog my memory, and I see Million Dollar Baby is #144 on their list. I wouldn't include it among favorites although it was interesting.

I'm trying to think of a favorite actress, and can't come up with one. I remember a lot of memorable performances by many different actresses (Hepburn, Bergman, Bacall, etc.), but as far as an overall favorite, I guess I don't really have one.

Bogie is my favorite actor. I've seen most all of his films thanks to a series on a local TV station where they ran a Bogie film each Saturday afternoon.

I'll have to glance through a couple other lists of films and see if I can come up with some more I have forgotten.

My favorite film of all time by a slight margin over a few others has to be Casablanca with Bogart, Bergman, Henreid, Greenstreet, Lorre, Raines, Sakall, etc. -30-

Sunday, March 29, 2009 9:45 PM - Wasn't that a great finish to the Villanova-Pitt game last night. I'll remember that one for some time. Although it wasn't a full court drive by one player as was the Danny Ainge drive for BYU way back when, still that drive down the lane for the final basket was very impressive.

I was surprised by Michigan State beating Louisville today, especially by such a wide margin. I felt Louisville and Villanova were the best teams in the Elite 8. However one can never overlook North Carolina now. Their victory over Oklahoma today emphasized what a balanced team they have with any one of 7 or 8 players seemingly able to step up and take command for Roy Williams. The Final Four games next Saturday should be very intriguing. I never predict here, but just enjoy the games.

I've got a few fully open flowers on my tomato plants now and probably will get out a Q-tip and start pollinating them in a couple days.

I don't know if I've ever talked about movies in my diary, and I'm not going to right now except to say I watched an intriguing strange movie today at my neighbor's. It is a boxing movie with a twist at the end. It's called Million Dollar Baby. I generally don't have the patience or time to watch a movie all the way to the end unless it truly grabs my attention and curiousity to see how it turns out. This one did.

Perhaps some day I'll discuss my favorite movies in each genre - Westerns, Comedies, Sci-Fi, Adventure, etc. -30-

Saturday, March 28, 2009 8:51 PM - Oh my, I hope the Earth Hour police don't come and arrest me. I'm typing this entry in the middle of Earth Hour with lights on all over the house.

I sure know now how to get some reaction from NAQCC members. After begging for help in our on-line newsletters to send out our newsletter notifications and getting only two replies after several issues, I made a mention in the newsletter notification email itself this time and got over a dozen replies within a day. I guess from that I might deduce that folks only read the notification email and not the actual on-line newsletter itself.

At any rate I've spent a lot of today working with 2 of the dozen or so folks, and am real happy with the way things are going, and I think we have signed on a couple of really good folks. I guess I'll have to put the rest of the volunteers on a waiting list now till we sign more members and need another mailer.

I'm perplexed again about this Windstream/Alltel situation. Did they make the changeover yet or not. Today my old 'alltel' URL's seem to be working again, and the number of visitors made a big jump today. HOWEVER, the changeover WILL be made, and 'alltel' definitely will not work after the middle of May. I'm at least positive about that. So make whatever changes are necessary in your Favorites, Bookmarks, Links, etc. NOW and be ready when the final change comes. If you missed it, read the top of this diary page for details. -30-

Friday, March 27, 2009 8:48 PM - Well, I told you the Tigers would win last night and they did. HI. Villanova looked very strong again in handling Duke quite easily. The Pitt-Villanova match-up should be very interesting tomorrow. I think Villanova is a more balanced team than Pitt, and if they can get Blair for Pitt in foul trouble, they could wind up upsetting the #1 seed. Both first games this evening are blow-outs at the moment for Louisville and Oklahoma.

A nice weather day today, and I helped my neighbor take down an old fence in his back yard. Later in the afternoon, I went fishing for the first time this year. I really didn't have much expectation of catching anything, and I didn't. However I got to get the feel of a new telescoping rod my neighbor gave me about a week ago. I like it a lot, and it sure is convenient to carry, especially when I just want to walk along the shore with a lure. If nothing bites, then it's no trouble to carry it around on a walk instead.

I got a new 1GB memory chip (actually board - but they seem to have evolved into being called a chip) and installed it in the computer today. So far no memory errors like I had with the previous chip I installed a couple months ago, so hopefully I got a good one this time. -30-

Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:09 PM - Looks like UConn is going to be the first team to the Elite 8 in the NCAA basketball tournament. They're just about to eliminate Purdue as I'm typing this. Pitt is having a tougher time with Xavier, or at least were a few minutes ago. A couple of good games coming up after these two are over. Missouri-Memphis should be a fast paced run and gun game, and Villanova-Duke should be a real classic game with Duke always tough, and Villanova looking equally tough as they blew out UCLA last weekend. What a great time of year this is. Oh, hey I do know who is going to win the Missouri-Memphis game already. I confidently predict the Tigers will win.

So now I've got to get back to the MMOD site and check on the Pitt game, and also do a washing, so I'll cut this short now. -30-

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:43 PM - A couple of things pretty much filled up my day today. I had to get my photo driver's license renewed today. My neighbor took me to the license center, then she and I and her son went shopping to 4 different places. This afternoon Tom WY3H came over and we worked on his 6 meter rig to add some kind of tone generator to it so he could access or as he put it 'trip' some repeaters for the local Skywarn system. I hope I stated all that correctly as it is all Greek to a pure CW HF operator like me.

I found working on that rig even harder than when Mike and I worked on our KX-1 project. One of the wires from the tone generator had to be soldered to a pad where a SM transistor was connected. I'm sure that pad was not much more than a millimeter in diameter and the adjacent pads were not much more than a millimeter apart from it. With a 3-4 millimeter soldering iron tip, it was very tedious to make the connection and took several attempts. Even the solder was bigger than the pad. Then after we hooked up the power wire supposedly to a spot on the board that supplied power, we found the instructions apparently were wrong and we had to remove it and connect it elsewhere. All in all, it took a few hours of work and we're still not positive it is working. Tom took it home to try it out, and I haven't heard one way or the other yet if it is working. Give me the old days when parts were bigger than the period on a printed page. These microminiature parts are just too hard to work with. -30-

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:35 PM - My tomato plants are starting to turn the buds into flowers. I can see some yellow color poking out of the end of the buds. Here are a couple pictures.
pix_diary_20090324_01 (31K)pix_diary_20090324_02 (28K)
pix_diary_20090324_03 (85K)

It looks like folks are starting to pick up on the alltel to windstream change as my site had its most visitors today since the changeover a week or so ago.

I sure wish it would warm up here. Its still just a few degrees to chilly to sit down by the river fishing. It's not bad when you're moving around but when you sit motionless, especially with the breeze blowing, it feels downright cold. The river is down at a good fishing level now, so as soon as we gain those few degrees, my neighbor and I are going fishing.

Joe and I took quite a long walk today, the longest I've had with him so far. We're trying to get him to get some more exercise as he's gone from 16.5 to 18 pounds from just sitting around and snacking - mostly on people food because anyone who is eating has trouble resisting that begging look he gives with those big eyes of his. He certainly is a real treasure. -30-

Monday, March 23, 2009 10:59 PM - I got a couple of certificates in the mail today. One for winning 1st place in the QRP SO AB category for the W3 call area in the 2008 CQ WPX contest, and one for first place Armstrong County in the 2008 PA QSO Party as N3A/3.

I also got a visit from Tom WY3H, and that is always a good thing. So today was a pretty good day all in all. Also a somewhat busy one as I paid some bills, did some house-cleaning, a lot of work on the NAQCC Sprint logs and some other web site work. Oh and also started putting together the NAQCC Newsletter for release this Friday evening.

The changeover from Alltel to Windstream in the URL's of my web site has really been a blow from which it apparently is going to take some time to recover. My visitors per day dropped from around 150 down to 80 or so. I guess a lot of links out there still have 'alltel' in their URL's. I may have to take a day or two to search them out and see if I can get the webmasters to make the change. -30-

Sunday, March 22, 2009 3:49 PM - My Internet service was restored sometime during the night. Along with it came two wonderful guestbook submissions that show exactly why I do this web site. They really boost my spirits and help to make my efforts in maintaining the site worthwhile. I'm going to share their comments here as well as posting them in the guestbook. I'm doing that to show why this web site is important to ham radio, and to ask you to do me a favor. If you have a web site with a link to my site be sure to make the necessary changes at the top of this page. Also if you can help in any other way at all to notify me of anywhere you see my site still mentioned as being on Alltel rather than Windstream, please let me know where or tell the person at the source that his link or info is no longer accurate. Thanks.

Now here are the comments to back up what I say above:

NS4Q says: "Many thanks, John, for all your good work for QRP, cw and radio fun. And you motivated me to restart my radio life and cw. Much fun. 72"

N5YJX says: "I am a no-code general, however, your site has inspired me to learn code & try qrp. Wish me luck!"

Two more hams on the bands USING CW because of this web site. Let's keep up the momentum. -30-

Saturday, March 21, 2009 10:12 PM - Well, on top of moving up the URL change, now Windstream is giving me more trouble. They are having some trouble somewhere and my Internet service is down at the moment. So There's not much use in making much of an entry right now. I'll get up when my service returns - hopefully soon. -30-

Friday, March 20, 2009 8:38 AM - Some comments from readers today.

Paul N0NBD emails, "Great! shots of Joe. I am loving the reports on Joe. My house there are 3 black cats and a fat weenie dog named Burt... Pets sure can be a source of pleasure. You have the best of both worlds. Joe is your buddy and get to visit and go on walks but someone else is his family hi hi. Hope the river drops and fishing starts for you. Tonight is my wife's bowling night so I am going fishing after work.... Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Also from Paul, "I am still riding along with you although one of my favorite lists must have been wrong because I had to get here from another link..... now I am confused! I am not sure what the wx will bring but my grandson is coming tomorrow to spend the day. I think we will take a fishing trip. Joshua is 6 years old and LOVES to fish. Have a good one and hope the wx lets you get some fishing in de Paul N0NBD"

Yes, you and anyone else who still has the old Alltel address in their favorites or bookmarks will have to change it to Windstream as shown at the top of this page.

From Larry W2LJ, "Hey John, Writing this from work... I put a notice on my blog about your URL being changed early; along with the correct URL. I found out the hard way, too. Hoping that my efforts will spread the news. 73 de Larry W2LJ"

Thanks very much Larry, I certainly appreciate that. It's nice to have friends like you. -30-

Thursday, March 19, 2009 11:04 PM - From the looks of my site stats the past couple days, apparently there are a lot of folks who didn't heed the chage of URL at the top of the page. Well, it seems Windstream moved up the change date from May to March without telling anyone. So anyone who put it off is probably not even able to read this. I guess the word will get around in time though, and my visitors will be back.

I spent today processing logs from last night's NAQCC sprint and also watching March Madness. No truly exciting moments today, and only a couple #10 seeds involved in upsets so far. Maybe tomorrow will bring more excitement. -30-

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 7:44 PM - Just about 45 minutes before our monthly NAQCC sprint as I write this. I wonder what conditions will be like. Propagation has picked up somewhat of late, and it always seems to be quite good near the equinoxes, but that's not a hard fast rule, and things can change from day to day. We do have some thunderstorms about 80-90 miles north of here. That could increase the QRN level quite a bit for those in this area, especially on 80M. The later sunset in relation to our sprint times with the switch to DST a little over a week ago may mean 40 and even 20 will show improvement over the past few months. But then anything at all would be an improvement on those bands.

I'm not really in all that much of a contesting mood, but since this is OUR sprint at the NAQCC, I will put in the full two hours, as I have for all but a couple of our first 50+ NAQCC sprints. I'd love to see a record turnout tonight even though it would be a bigger workload for me in cross-checking logs and posting results on the club web site. It would be wonderful to crack the 70 logs barrier for the first time and see some 120 stations represented in those logs. I don't think that's unreasonable if conditions are decent since we have over 3,625 members now.

There is one other factor. The beautiful weather, which seems to be quite widespread over a good part of the country. I don't know if that is the reason or not, but the visitors to my web site today have been few and far between. Is everyone away from their computers outside enjoying this preview of spring? And will that affect our turnout in the sprint? We'll just have to wait and see. -30-

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:45 PM - Hmmm, almost the same time as last night's entry. A true spring day today with temperatures in the mid 60's after a foggy cloudy early start. As soon as Joe got home from the groomer, I went out to greet him. He almost looked like a different dog. I think you can see that from the picture below of yesterday and today.
pix_diary_20090317_01 (157K)

Quite a difference!

After that I went for a walk through the park to check the river. Looks like maybe tomorrow it will be ready for some fishing. Came home and did some more cleanup work in the back yard. I cut back my daylilly plants as they were expanding beyond their borders and pushing my brick border out of line in spots. Then I walked to Ace Hardware and got a packet of lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson) seeds and planted a couple rows of lettuce. After supper another walk through the park to find the river down almost another foot from this morning. I also ran into a friend I hadn't seen for a couple months and we had a nice visit while making a couple loops of the park.

I got home to a message on my answering machine from my neighbor who said she and her son had gone out for the evening and there was a lonely dog who needed some company if I wasn't doing anything else. I wasn't, so I went over and spent an hour with Joe. We took a nice long walk and sat on my porch for a while. Then I took him over home and left him for a while to get a snack and my daily QSO. After that I went back over and visited with Joe some more till my neighbor got home.

And all that made for a very enjoyable St. Patrick's Day for me. Hope you had as good a one. -30-

Monday, March 16, 2009 9:49 PM - HAVE A GREAT AND HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!

DX: I actually worked some today. Well one station this evening on 30M, HI3/LY3UM. It was a tough QSO though as I had to repeat my call many more times than usual when working DX. I guess perhaps there were some thunderstorms in the Caribbean as the weather starts getting pretty warm down there now.

Buds: No doubt now about the buds on my tomato plants. They are growing nicely and becoming quite prominent. All four plants have them now.

Joe: He's going to the groomer tomorrow morning to get his long curly locks trimmed back for the upcoming warmer weather. I took some 'before' pictures today and will take some 'after' pictures tomorrow.

KX-1: Thanks for your comments on our (Mike KC2EGL and I) KX-1 construction. The series of articles in our NAQCC newsletters was well received with quite a bit of interest. I hope it encourages others to take on a kit building project. I think we proved that a raw novice at kit building and a veteran kit builder who hasn't built a kit in many years can tackle a modern-day kit and construct it successfully without any major problems and with no special tools.

Weather: All in all I think Phil made a bad prediction this year as it's been quite some time now since we had any snow here. It hasn't really looked much like winter probably since mid-February in Western Pennsylvania. We've had a few cold days, but that's about as close to real winter weather we've gotten lately.

Fishing: Soon, I hope. One fishing spot is out of the water now as the river continues to drop. My neighbor Bruce and I are both getting the urge to get our lines wet. He gave me one of those telescoping rods and reel yesterday. I'm anxious to try that out. It will be nice for those times when I just grab a lure and take a walk along the river to see if I can catch a couple bass or walleyes.

March Madness: Counting down the hours now. Been fooling around with the MM web site video player watching some highlights from past tournaments including the one I mentioned in yesterday's entry. They have a new high quality player this year that seems much better than the previous player they used. -30-

Sunday, March 15, 2009 7:49 PM - I just finished getting set up for March Madness or for those not inclined towards sports and the nicknames involved, the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. I've got my brackets all set up in my Excel spreadsheet. I never make predictions, but I do love to follow the games like no other sporting event. My interest in this one event has never declined like it has in other sports. Ever since at least 1981 I've followed March Madness as closely as possible every year. There's just something magical about it that doesn't happen in any other sport, in my opinion. The biggest chunk of magic comes in the inevitable half dozen or more outstanding upsets each tournament where Cinderella grabs the glass slipper and runs as far as possible with it. It's very unlikely a true 100% Cinderella team will ever win it all, but it's a thrill watching them advance as far as possible before the glass slipper is finally shattered. I consider a true Cinderella to be one seeded in the lower half of a draw, i.e. 9-16 in a field of 64 and so on. Since 1980, the lowest seed to win in a field of 64 was the wonderful upset that Villanova laid on Georgetown back in 1985. Villanova was an 8th seed. In a 36 team field in 1983, North Carolina State won as a number 6 seed with the highest seed being a #12 that year. That still remains as my favorite tournament of all times as the 6th seeded Wolfpack rolled to victories over Pepperdine in double overtime, the Running Rebels of UNLV by one point, #10 seed Utah by 19 points, #1 seed Virginia by 1 point, #4 seed Georgia by 7, and the very highly favored #1 slamming jamming Houston Cougars with a last second shot by Lorenzo Charles on a "pass" from Dereck Whittenburg. Well, Dereck kidded it was a pass, but we all knew it was just a missed desperation 30 foot shot at a basket. That was followed by the late head coach Jim Valvano running around the court desperately looking for someone to hug. Ahh, such are the memorable moments from March Madness. Maybe I'll reminisce some more as the tournament goes on. -30-

Saturday, March 14, 2009 10:06 PM - I've just posted my new poll for March 15 through April 14. While I really like my new poll provider I started using a few months ago, it seems every time I set up a new poll, there are all kind of little glitches till I get it right. But I think I'm finally getting used to them. I just have to train myself to remember that I can't include certain characters ("/" for example) in the poll question or any of the answers. Also that the poll ID code is case-sensitive. Maybe typing that out here will help me remember the next time.

Since I wasted so much time with the poll now, I'm going to have to cut this entry short because I've got a lot to get done before going to bed. So why not go cast your vote in the new poll as I move along here. -30-

Friday, March 13, 2009 8:38 PM - Friday the 13th didn't live up to its reputation for me today. I had a good day. Mike KC2EGL came down for a visit, and that's always a good thing. He picked up his KX-1 to take home and play with. The final installment of the story of the KX-1 was just posted on the NAQCC web site a little while ago if you're interested. I had fun playing with the rig for a few days here making around 16 QSO's with it. While Mike was here we checked out the bands, hearing some good DX like KH7XS on 20M, but couldn't raise anyone for a QSO.

After Mike and I visited for about 6 hours including our usual good food spree - tuna fish hoagies today - my neighbor took me and her son out to a fish dinner where I got stuffed again with a seafood platter, french fries, desert, cole slaw, etc.

When we got home, I took Joe out for a little walk. Since his owner, my neighbor's son, has been here, he's more or less stuck to him like glue. Whenever he is home, Joe is reluctant to go out, seemingly afraid that Bruce is going to leave while he's out. However today he went right out with me.

Then I went for a walk down through the park to check out the river. It's dropping and hopefully Bruce and I can go fishing before too many more days now.

Now I just finished getting my daily QSO, working N3RSD/4 down in FL on 80M, and am writing this diary entry. So that all made for a full enjoyable day here. -30-

Thursday, March 12, 2009 8:41 PM - Somewhat of a busy day again today. I had some financial and computer club business to take care of. Then I did some cleaning up around the house. That's one thing that seems to get neglected more than it really should. I also examined my tomato plants and I'm more sure than yesterday that I really am seeing buds on two of the 4 plants. I took a couple macro close-up pictures but haven't downloaded them yet to examine them. I also started my Potato Top Tomato seeds just a little while ago this evening. It will be interesting to see what they are like if they grow successfully over the next few months.

80M seemed really super a little while ago. I got a 40 over S9 report from Gil K8BTD over in Ohio. He was also 40 over with both of us using QRP. He has an antenna up 73 feet which helps matters, but I still can't recall ever getting a 40 over report before with my QRP. I hope the band is that good next Wednesday evening for our NAQCC sprint.

I feel like I'm coming down with a bit of a cold, so I've got some chicken soup in the microwave, and I think I'll get to bed early tonight also for a change, although I still have to do my regular Thursday evening washing. If I shut up here and get started, I can still get to bed before 11, which is early for me. -30-

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 9:57 PM - Thanks to Ron K5DUZ for pointing out a couple typos (wrong dates) I had in my QSO of the Day table. Ron is always looking out for me, and I appreciate that. If any of you see anything wrong on my web site or the NAQCC site, feel free to point it out. With the little time I have to do all my work here leading me to make haste, which as you know leads to making waste, it is easy for errors to creep in that I don't catch.

BUDS! Well, I think so anyway. It looks like my tomato plants have tiny little buds starting. It's hard to tell for sure as they are buried in the clumps of new growth at the growing tips of the plants. I'll know with more certainty in a couple days.

I also learned a little bit more about Potato Top Tomatoes from the little flyer that came with the seeds. While it doesn't say directly about the size of the tomatoes, it says they are a late variety which usually implies a larger tomato. They are also apparently somewhat of an endangered species of tomato, as Doug Oster who collects and distributes the seeds through his connection with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper wants everyone who grows the plant successfully to send the seeds from the first ripe tomato to him for re-distribution next year. If you want more info, I think you could probably do a Windows Live search for something like 'doug oster potato top tomato'. If I get time tomorrow, maybe I can check myself and report here in tomorrow's diary entry. Or if you check and find something, send me the URL.

Got to run now. Went to a computer club meeting this evening which took up 3 or so hours of my time. -30-

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:48 PM - Not a whole lot to talk about today. It was another one of those quiet days with not much of anything happening. Contributing to the quiet were a lot of off-on showers. Although we only got a few hundredths of an inch of rain, it seemed like it was always ready and willing to put down some more at any time. However the worst of it went to our north again as it did yesterday. Of course that's bad in a way because that's the watershed for the Allegheny River and that will keep it too high for good fishing for at least a week, and I'm getting more and more anxious to get the fishing season started.

I'm also getting anxious for gardening season to get started. Outdoor style, I mean. Of course I've been gardening in a way indoors since Janaury 2nd when I planted my tomato seeds. Oh, that reminds me, I got some tomato seeds in the mail today from a friend. They're called Potato Top Tomatoes. He was telling me about them last year. I forget now just what their attributes are. I think he said they were a huge tomato perhaps with few seeds or small seeds. I'll have to look at the little flyer he sent with it.

80M seemed really good this evening. I worked 3 stations in a row. After the first QSO I was tail-ended twice. Nice to be popular. HI. I hope it's this way for our NAQCC sprint next week.

I've been mentioning our NAQCC KX-1 project here in the diary, but haven't been able to say much about it. Today I fixed up an easy way to ready the whole story of the project on the NAQCC web site for anyone who is interested. Just go to the newsletter section of the site and open it up, then click on the KX-1 Project link to have access to all 5 installments of the story. I guess I can say that the project is now virtually finished. -30-

Monday, March 09, 2009 7:24 PM - As expected, the river did rise today, so there will be no using all the worms I gathered yesterday for a while now.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I finally saw my first robin of the year. In fact 3 of them. So apparently they feel the weather is good enough to come back into town now.

Finally for today, here's a picture to show the progress of my tomato plants.
pix_diary_20090309_01 (47K)


Sunday, March 08, 2009 10:29 PM - I just came in from getting some nightcrawlers. After the rainy day, there was quite a harvest for the first time this year. I stopped at 34 though, since I've got to save some for later in the year.

Now if the river and weather will just co-operate, I may get a chance to get in some early fishing. However with heavy rain up river today, I expect the river to rise quite a bit the next couple days, especially with more heavy rain predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mike KC2EGL added a helpful tip to my security info I gave yesterday. It's mostly for those who opt to go with paid software, not the free kind. He says, "John, One thing to add to your security lesson. NEVER wait until the last day to renew your subscription to your anti virus software. I did this a few years back and wound up being hit with a very nasty virus that cost a small fortune to get rid of. Fortunately all the vital information on my computer was recovered. If you do use a paid subscrition for your anti virus software make sure you renew it a week ahead of time. You will not loose that week you have left. The renewal will take effect on the proper day. The good thing about doing it this way is that you will keep your system safe from all the nasties out there. 73 Michael"

A good tip. And if you get a new computer with AV, Firewall, or other security software, make sure you activate it as one of the first things you do in setting up your new computer. Especially be sure to do it before you set up your Internet connection if possible. A friend of mine had his new computer infected in just the short time he turned it on for the first time and the time he activated his security software. We had quite a time cleaning and disinfecting it. A lot of time that could have been devoted to something else.

While it was raining today, I was fooling around a bit on 30M. It was quite active around 1800-1830Z or so. I only worked one station in Wisconsin, but it was nice to hear mare than the dead air usually heard on that band. -30-

Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:48 AM - I'd like to talk today about computer security. I had been receiving email invitations to join this or that Internet group. Those supposedly came from a couple of my good ham friends. However I am very suspicious (fortunately) about a lot of things, emails being near the top of my list. It turns out with MailWasher, I deleted the invitations while still on the Windstream server. I then contacted my friends and it turns out that indeed they had nothing to do with them. They were sent by the evil mentally disturbed people who get their kicks from harming others - in this instance by attacking their computers with a virus. In fact one of the friends did download one of the invitation emails he received and did contract a virus. So my suspicions were right.

Without mentioning names, the two friends asked me what could be done about such situations, and I responded with the following email. The info within it may be helpful to others also which is why I am posting it here.

"Hi ?? and ??,

It's looks like both of you have been victims of one kind of Internet attack or other, since neither of you sent the invitations I have been receiving.

Unfortunately there's not much that can be done about it except to 'keep your doors locked' on your computers.

I'd suggest doing the following which has kept me safe from any kind of attack so far (knock on wood):
Perhaps you already have some of these things on your computer. If not, you should.

1. A good firewall. If you have Windows XP, the built in firewall is just not good enough. I'd suggest Comodo or ZoneAlarm. Both are free. ZoneAlarm works more in the background. Comodo has a lot of pop-up warnings which may be annoying after a while, but they do give you more control over what is happening than ZoneAlarm. Except for those differences, both are equally good.

2. A good anti-virus program. Comodo has a companion anti-virus program that works with it's firewall. Other good ones are Avast and AVG which are free also.

3. A good anti-spyware program like AdAware or Spybot Search ∧ Destroy.

4. Always keep your firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs regularly updated. All have automatic update features. Be sure they are activated.

5. Never open any email you have the slightest bit of suspicion about, even if it seems to come from a close friend as did the invitations I received that looked like they came from you.

6. I use a program called MailWasher which checks my mail on the server and lets me dispose of anything suspicious before it is even downloaded to my computer. That's what I did with the invitations.

All the programs I mentioned are freeware, and all also have a paid version if you feel inclined to go a little further. The free versions work just fine. The paid ones only add a few bells and whistles that are not really needed. All you need to do is to do a Windows Live (or Google if that's your preference, it's not mine, I feel Windows Live is safer) search for the programs, download and install them. Some like AVG make it a bit hard to find the free version of their program, but they are there.

I hope that helps keep you safe in the future.

One last comment. Your computer could be 100% secure, and these organizations could have gotten my email and your email addresses from some web site where we gave out the information to sign up for something legitimate.

John K3WWP" -30-

Friday, March 06, 2009 8:29 PM - We came awful close to 70 degrees today, if we didn't actually reach it. I'll know for sure in about a half hour when I go out to get my temperature readings. Anyway no matter what the actual number was, it was wonderful to say the least. I went for 3 long walks listening to music on my MP3 player, and also took Joe for 3 walks as well. My neighbor's son was returning from the state of Indiana today, and I was lucky enough to be over there having just returned from taking Joe out when he came. We had been wondering if Joe would remember him after two months. Well, Joe left no doubt he indeed did remember. What a wonderful reunion I was fortunate to witness.

That just gave me a warm feeling all over, despite the fact I probably wouldn't be spending as much time with Joe now. However after I had left Joe and his 'daddy' and 'grandma' alone to get acquainted, I went for a walk and came back home to the words from my neighbor's son that his mom had told him how much I had been enjoying taking Joe for his walks, and he said I was welcome any time to continue doing so.

Other than that not a whole lot else happened today. I did have a tiny bit of estate work to do, but that only took a few minutes. However my co-executor gave me a nice little package of venison that a friend gave him. I'm looking forward to having some venison burgers in the near future now.

Oh I forgot to say yesterday that I staked my tomato plants. They are getting so big now, I felt they needed some support. Also today I put some of the 'garbage' I had been 'composting' over the winter into my garden area in the back yard. I think I may get some lettuce seeds tomorrow and plant them to try to get an early crop of lettuce. I forget when I planted it last year, but I might have a picture in the computer somewhere.

Speaking of pictures, I don't recall if I mentioned this or not, and I'm not going back to look, but I've been using the new Windows Live Photo Gallery (FREE) from Microsoft to organize my computer pictures. I find it much better and easier to use than the Adobe Photoshop Starter Edition (?) I had been using. I've got about 3,000 of my 5,000 or so pictures catalogued already, it's so easy. -30-

Thursday, March 05, 2009 11:00 PM - Well, the trip to the vet went well. Joe was well behaved if somewhat nervous at first, but then calmed down somewhat. Best of all, he passed all the tests with flying colors, got his shots and his toenails clipped all the time being very well behaved.

About 5 minutes after we got Joe home, Mike KC2EGL showed up for the continuation of our KX-1 project. It was a beautiful day and we took a break and had a nice walk in the 60 degree weather.

Then this evening I went over next door to check to see how Joe was doing after his stressful day. He seemed a bit tired, but the vet said he would be that way after getting his shots. He was eager to go out for his 9PM walk though, which we took a little earlier this evening.

Next it was getting my temperature and followed that up with my daily QSO, this time working NAQCC member Steve K4JPN on 80M. Incidentally Steve's Area Code is 478, which is my house number. That gives me around 25 different Area Codes now towards the FISTS award.

That sums up my day. -30-

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:23 PM - You know, one of the most wonderful things about life is that there is always something new to do or something new to learn if you just make a little effort to find it. Or sometimes it comes to you. I feel sorry for those people who never want to do anything but the same old boring routine every day. Watching the same old 'reality' TV shows day after day, for example. Personally I'm glad I got rid of my cable TV, and never watch TV any more except for Jeopardy at my neighbor's now and then. Now that's a show that challenges and exercises the brain and also is very educational. Unfortunately it's about the only show in this day and age that does that.

Anyway I got sidetracked a bit. I was just going to say how wonderful it has been to have Joe come into my life. I had never cared much for dogs and had never owned one. But Joe has just stolen my heart in the almost two months since he came to live with my neighbor. The picture I posted of Joe in January has now scrolled off the active portion of my diary, so I thought I'd post a couple more of him here.

pix_diary_20090304_01 (150K)

I think the bottom picture just begs for some cute caption to go with that look Joe has on his face. Something like "Smile when you say that!" or "What was that remark about my jacket?" or "This is my territory and you better leave now!". Especially since that look I captured in the photo is the complete opposite of his friendly loving personality. As my neighbor says, the only danger from Joe is that he may love you to death.

At any rate it has been such a joy and a learning experience the past couple months helping to take care of Joe. Now tomorrow there is something new again coming up. Joe's going to the vet for some shots and a checkup, and I get to be the one to hold him in the car while my neighbor drives us to the vet. I have no idea how Joe reacts to car rides, but when I type tomorrow's entry, I will know.

Tomorrow's also an interesting day in another way. Mike KC2EGL is coming for another (our final?) session working on the KX-1 kit. As usual you'll have to read the upcoming NAQCC newsletter (March 14) to find out about that as the story is exclusive to the newsletter, and I will always honor such exclusivity. -30-

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 6:53 AM - Yes, I'm writing this early today. It's nice to be ahead of, instead of behind, schedule for a day or so.

Hey, my two 80M KH6 QSO's have been verified via the LotW, so that's official now, but I still want to have the actual QSL cards from one or both of them.

Also my 3 Japan QSO's in the contest are in the LotW. It's nice to get almost instant gratification like that. The Japan QSO's are not anything new (I have 173 JA QSO's with my, of course, QRP/CW/simple wire antennas), but I still get a thrill out of working that part of the world and then getting the QSO's verified.

And now for something completely different. Paul N0NBD emails, "Hello John, The comments on Robins caught my eye and I went and had a quick read in a couple places. I am not a "birder" by any means, but I have a tattered old field guide my folks bought me many years ago. I enjoy looking up birds and seeing if my memory is good enough to remember the points of the bird till I get home..... The poor old book has some seriously thumbed pages.
While doing rounds on campus last week I counted 27 robins in one bunch feeding in the front yard and 22 feeding in the sunny yard south of the Cafeteria building. There were several students sitting around visiting and watching the birds. I found this passage in a couple places on the net so here is a little on the migration or not.
"Although the appearance of a robin is considered a harbinger of spring, the American Robin actually spends the winter in much of its breeding range. However, because they spend less time in yards and congregate in large flocks during winter, you're much less likely to see them. The number of robins present in the northern parts of the range varies each year with the local conditions."
Oh the range is listed from Alaska and Canada to Florida and Mexico.
The wx here is supposed to be better each day this week. I may go drown a fly on Friday, my day off. Have a good one de Paul N0NBD"

Similar to what I said about their wintering habits. Thanks Paul. -30-

Monday, March 02, 2009 6:38 PM - After a hectic past week or so, I finally got caught up on just about everything, although that won't last long, I'm sure. So this has been a quiet, laid back day during which I didn't do much of anything except pay a couple bills. I also went on a short shopping trip with my neighbor just to have something to do and get out of the house. I didn't get out much because we are having a couple cold January-like days here, probably mocking my declaration that meteorological spring began yesterday. However I'll have my revenge later this week when temps are supposed to soar into the 50's near 60.

In that same vein, Geo N1EAV emails, "Hi John, Sounds like you are staying pretty busy down there. Just wanted to say "So much for meteoralogical spring up here in the northeast." We are expecting a snowstorm coming up the coast tonight and continuing until tomorrow afternoon. 10-14" of the white stuff is expected....uugghhh!!!
As far as the robins go, I was seeing them around here the beginning of February, but according to a local weather guy,they are Canadian robins that migrate down here in the winter. The robins that come back in the spring up here migrate south to the mid atlantic states and then come back up in late March or so.
Well, guess that's it for now. Have to get my stuff together and get some sleep as I will be doing snow removal at work early in the morning. Take care and send the sun our way...hihi. 73,geo"

Actually I've heard that robins don't really migrate. I don't know if that is true or not, but some folks say they just leave the cities and towns and winter out in the woods where they can feed on berries and other such food. That could explain the occasional sightings in the mid-winter month of January as a couple of them wander back into town to see what is going on. That would be an interesting topic for research by someone who is otherwise bored. -30-

Sunday, March 01, 2009 8:38 AM - I, along with countless Americans, lost a good friend when Paul Harvey died yesterday. It was a delight to listen to his radio commentaries about what was right about America. We will miss hearing him utter his catch phrase "The rest of the story" and the words he created such as "Reaganomics" to honor the wonderful economic policies of Mr. Reagan. Here's a Fox News story about Mr. Harvey that Mike KC2EGL emailed to me.

And now (to honor Mr. Harvey with a paraphrase of his catch phrase) the rest of the entry.

Back just one month ago today I said the following in the diary - "I found the month was 5 degrees below normal which was the coldest January we've had since 2003/04 and before that since 1994. In all three of those years, February was also below normal, but not as much. So based on that, it's likely February will be a little below normal this year. Let's see if my prediction matches or disagrees with Phil's."

It's time to check our predictions. On the day after the entry above, Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter (naturally - he does that about 90 percent of the time). Still a couple more weeks to go for Phil, but so far the first 4 weeks have been pretty good - weatherwise, not predictionwise. We had one very cold day with temps at minus 2 for a low. However no snow to speak of, and our ground is bare now after a good many days in the 40's and 50's and even one day in the 60's.

My prediction of a slightly below normal February was wrong, although not by much. When I entered the data from my daily observations in my weather spreadsheet, it turned out the month was 0.6 degrees ABOVE normal, not below. However just a couple more colder days could have swung that to just below normal.

At any rate today is the first day of meteorological spring, and it really looks like it at this moment. It's a bit on the cold side at just below 30 degrees, but there is a bright sun shining down on my tomato plants which I placed in the kitchen window just a little while ago.

One unusual thing so far is that I have not seen a single robin yet. I usually see my first one in February, and have even seen one in January a couple years. It could be that they are out there, but with all the time consumed here with NAQCC work, helping my neighbor, the bad weather in January and other such things, I haven't kept up with my outside walks as much. Hopefully I am going to correct that starting today, and get out there again in full swing. -30-

Monday, February 16, 2009 10:56 PM - Every so often I actually have a quiet day with nothing much happening. That's the case today, and while it's a nice feeling, it leaves little to write here in the diary, so for today I'll just give you a picture of my tomatoes so you can see how they are coming along.

pix_diary_20090216_01 (57K)

Saturday, February 28, 2009 4:25 PM - I've often wondered this, but never talked about it in the diary. At the end of each month I update my LOTW totals on the awards pages on the web site. I'm in the midst of doing that right now. My question is why do folks who use the WARC bands seem to lag far behind those using the 'regular' ham bands? Let's look for one example at the number of states I have worked on each band and the number of states I have verified on each band.

Band  Worked  VFD by LOTW  Percent
160   42      35           83.3 
80    49      43           87.8
40    50      49           98.0
30    49      22           44.9
20    50      49           98.0
17    42       6           14.3
15    50      44           88.0
12    25       3           12.0
10    48      40           83.3

Regular bands
     289     263           91.0
WARC bands
     116      31           26.7

Is it because of contesters? They are more interested in competition and more likely to want a LotW verification from those they work? Is it because I simply have worked many fewer USA stations on the WARC bands, and the odds are against my having worked those who do use the LotW? Or is it something else altogether.

As far as regular QSL cards go, of the 405 total band states I've worked, I have 404 verified by card, or 99.8 percent. And hopefully that will be 100 percent in a few days when I should get Hawaii verified on 80 meters by one of the two KH6 stations I worked in the recent ARRL DX test.

DXCC results are similar. I won't break it down by each band, but just by regular and WARC bands.
Regular     605     356     58.8
WARC        356     124     34.8

Not as big a gap, but nonetheless a sizable difference.

Overall with cards I have 961 band countries worked and 834 verified for a percentage of 86.8 percent. So in both categories, regular cards hold a wide edge over LotW in verification percentage.

It would be interesting to see how eQSL stacks up in this comparison, but I don't tabulate the eQSL's as completely as cards and LotW. It would be simple to set up a couple extra queries in Access to do so, and maybe when time permits, I will do just that and then we can compare all three. -30-

Friday, February 27, 2009 10:49 PM - Three things tonight. First my friend Franki ON5ZO read the comments I made about working him in the DX contest and sent this email: "John, only now I have the time to say "thanks" for the QSO. TNX for mentioning it. It was funny to see how the callpicking part of the brain works. Exceprt from my own report: 'At 17.09z I picked a weak "3WW" out of the callers. "3WW" could be K3WW but the signal was too weak for that. So my brain told me right away it was my friend K3WWP. John is great in being small. He works QRP CW with minimal antennas. We have worked in the past but the current propagation does not allow for QRP and indoor antennas to be worked like a breeze. But it worked this time and I greeted John because he might not recognize OQ5M as being ON5ZO. It's always a pleasure to work people you know.' I hope we can work some more on the wings of Cycle 24! 73 / CU de Franki ON5ZO = OQ5M"

That is so true about working someone you know. I like to work my friends in contests because I know my QSO will help them to improve their score. I seldom work towards winning contests myself, but I know a lot of them do, and if I help them along a little bit, it's almost like winning something myself.

Secondly, I've noticed a lot of my daily streak QSO's of late are with fellow NAQCC members. It's great to see our members getting on the air and increasing CW activity on the bands because that is the bottom line purpose of the NAQCC. That's the only way we can preserve CW by using it on the air. The saying that applies to many things in this world definitely applies here - "Use it or Lose it."

Finally, I've posted all of my 2009 tomato pictures on SkyDrive. Go to the Gardening folder and look in the Tomatoes 2009 folder if you'd like to see how the tomatoes have progressed through their first 56 days of life so far. -30-

Thursday, February 26, 2009 10:04 PM - I finally got caught up on the NAQCC new member applications. About 160 or so processed in the past 3 days ate up a lot of time and pushed a lot of other things off schedule that I have to get caught up on now. And wouldn't you know it, the weather has been nice the past couple days. I would have loved to have had more time to be outside. I did get in a couple walks both days though. I mentioned the ones yesterday. Today Ange and I went for a walk, and I also walked downtown for some shopping and other chores.

So having said that, I am now going to get started on getting caught up on those things I had to put off. -30-

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:38 PM - I had hoped to try to get K5D on another band or two on their next to last day on the island, but I never even got to the rig till I got on briefly for my daily QSO this evening. So I guess I will settle on being very happy I got them on 30M and wait till the team hits Navassa Island later on to get my last North American entity worked. I still haven't even gotten my QSL cards off for my KH6 QSO's on 80M. This recent membership drive, while I love getting all the new members to strengthen the NAQCC's pro-CW voice, has really eaten up a lot of time processing some 150 or so new members, and I'm still not done yet.

I did have a good day today visiting a friend of mine who hasn't been feeling well and was glad to see me, talking with Ange (my garden friend) for the first time in a couple weeks, and taking a walk with my 2nd cousin late this afternoon.

It was a beautiful weather day today and I did some outside work around the house. I fixed my side steps which had become a little loose over the winter. I put out my flowers (artificial) on the front porch to hopefully make it seem a little more like spring. I also put the chairs out on my front porch. I know, I know - March can be a very wintry month here, but hey, getting ready for spring improves the state of mind greatly.

Of course I also spent time with my neighbor and her dog which is always enjoyable. Now it's time for a late evening snack, then off to bed to get some sleep and see what tomorrow brings besides hopefully being able to get caught up on processing those new member applications. -30-

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:30 PM - Too tired for much writing tonight. I processed 78 new NAQCC membership applications today which pushed our membership over 3,500 now. Truly remarkable! Just think if we were just a CW club or just a QRP club how many more members we could have. I've said this before, but it just boggles my mind to have 3,500 members when anyone who joins our club has an interest in BOTH CW and QRP, not just one or the other. We also hit the 70 countries mark in our membership today with the addition of members from Mongolia, Dominican Republic, and Kenya. Still some 70 more new members to process tomorrow, and in glancing through that batch I noticed a new member from China which will be a new country. I think there were 1 or 2 more new countries also, but I can't remember them now.

Congrats to Paul KD2MX and Dave VA3RJ for another great recruiting drive. These two are a masterful 1-2 punch when it comes to spreading the news about the NAQCC to every corner of the ham radio world.

Congrats also to Tom WY3H who worked K5D with just one call on 30M this evening with his QRP and simple wire antenna.

After this latest membership rush is over, I think I'll post a series of pictures on SkyDrive showing the progress of my tomato plants and maybe a couple more pictures of Joe I took the other day. That is if I don't wind up involved in some other project(s). -30-

Monday, February 23, 2009 10:35 PM - After the ARRL DX contest ended lasgt evening, I had an interesting QSO for my QSO of the day. I called CQ on 80 meters, and got an answer from Stewart KE7LKW in White Salmon, Washington. He was also running QRP 5 watts. That was shortly after 8:30 PM EST, so it was probably still light at 5:30 PST out in Washington. A 2X QRP QSO at that time and over that distance on 80 meters is not all that common, I would say.

Our NAQCC Publicity Person Dave VA3RJ surprised me with another recruitment blitz today. I opened my email around 2300Z to find 29 new membership applications which has now swelled to 76. So I've got my work cut out for me now processing those applications which I probably will put off till tomorrow morning. I noticed our first member from Kenya in glancing through the applications.

Now I've got to do a bit of updating on the web site and perhaps get my cards ready to go to the two Hawaiians I worked on 80 meters in the DX test. Now I'd sure love to get Alaska to complete my 80 meters WAS. Also DE and MD on 10 meters. I don't know which is going to prove more difficult. -30-

Sunday, February 22, 2009 8:10 PM - For my diary entry today, click here to read about my further adventures in the ARRL DX Contest. I dashed it off in a hurry and it might stand a bit of cleaning up when I get time and re-read it. I hope you find it interesting. -30-

Saturday, February 21, 2009 5:49 PM - Can it be that conditions are picking up on the bands? I did get some encouragement to that effect today in the ARRL DX test. While I didn't work any of them, I heard 3 strong KL7 stations and 2 strong JA stations on 20M late this afternoon. Thinking back, that is about where the bands were just as the last sunspot cycle was getting ready to really fire up. And not only did I hear a couple KH6 stations on 15M at around the same time as I was hearing the 20M stations mentioned above, but I worked both of the KH6 stations easily. Oh yes, I also heard a KH6 on 20M, but he couldn't get past K3W?? in hearing me.

I also worked several EU stations on 20M, and for about 15-20 minutes or so, I was pretty much working every EU signal I could hear, and doing it easily.

My rates are no where near what they were 7 or 8 years ago, but it is still encouraging to note a positive change in the bands from the last few big DX tests.

I should give 80 and 40 a good try later tonight since if conditions are changing, this may be the last good chance for some easy DX on 80M as it generally goes in opposite directions from the higher bands as far as the sunspot cycle goes. It and 160M seem to have their best conditions near a sunspot minimum rather than a maximum. -30-

Friday, February 20, 2009 11:08 PM - A long session with Mike KC2EGL working on the KX-1 project plus just visiting ate up most of my time today. I'm not saying it wasn't enjoyable, because I did enjoy it. We had a good time.

I only got in the ARRL DX for a few minutes long enough to get a QSO of the day. I worked CT9L and FM5KC. I'll probably fool around tomorrow especially if the higher bands are in good shape. -30-

Thursday, February 19, 2009 8:41 PM - To quote Yogi Berra - it was deja vu all over again. I tuned in 30M to see what was going on a little after 0100Z, and there was K5D again calling CQ with no takers. This time he called several times and still no pile up developed. I didn't want to work him again since that wouldn't be kosher since I knew I was in the log on 30M already. Aha, I thought - I can work him using our NAQCC club call N3AQC, and I did with just two calls - just like a few nights ago. It was even simpler tonight though since he announced just where he was listening and I didn't have to guess. So if you're having trouble working K5D, you might just try listening around 10.106 a little after 0100Z. Perhaps you can do what I've done twice now.

Otherwise I haven't had much time to check and try to get him on other bands. Perhaps tomorrow. Mike KC2EGL is coming down to continue work on our NAQCC KX-1 project. Maybe we'll take a bit of time off to see if we can both get K5D somewhere.

I've had a few emails I'd like to mention in the diary, and I'll do that now.

Paul N0NBD emailed and said he enjoyed the tomato plant picture, and was impressed at the growth since the last picture I posted on Feb 3.

I got an email from W4DON who pointed out this web site that has a picture of the planet Venus sending a message in Morse Code. No, not aliens, but a time exposure of Venus moving across the sky with appropriately timed breaks so the trail displays a Morse message. Actually I haven't looked at it yet, but I think that's the gist of it. Take a look at: http://operagrrl.livejournal.com/92679.html and when I get time, I'll do likewise.

It was also nice to hear from Van WC5D, ex-K3ZMI via email. Van and I go back to our teen-age years together, and he was one of our NCS in the formative years of the CW CHN.

PY3DU emailed and asked if I could send him a schematic of my homebrew 6Y6 transmitter. Unfortunately I can't because none exists. I built that rig just as I went along, and didn't work from any schematic diagram. I just used the common knowledge of tube transmitting circuits and applied them to my work.

And I think that gets me caught up on emails for the time being. Of course I also get a lot of others saying how much they enjoy and find useful my web site. I appreciate all of them as well, and answer all personally even though I can't always mention them here in the diary. If I did that, this would become a 50 volume book instead of a simple diary. -30-

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:25 PM - I hoped to write a little longer entry today, but right now I'm in the middle of a long telephone call with Tom WY3H. We always get into long rag chews on the phone.

I wanted to get on the bands this afternoon and see if I could maybe get K5D on another band, but one thing and another came up.

I had to do some work on my cousin's estate, then my co-executor came to the house after we took care of the business and visited for an hour or so.

Of course I also had my time to spend with Joe. We went for a couple of walks in between the showers we had today. He is such a character. I could probably write several paragraphs about the things he does, but I'll just mention one. Whenever I go toward this one chair in my neighbor's house to sit down for a while, he'll start a leap toward my lap as I'm sitting down as if to say, "no one else is going to beat me there.

We did luck out once again with the weather. There was ice and snow predicted, but we just wound up with about a half inch of snow which melted in the rain we had this afternoon. Just a little while ago, we had our high temperature for the day of 45 degrees, and now it's down to about 40 or so. And that's about all I have time to type for today. I've got some NAQCC business to take care of before bed time, and a final snack to get to as well. -30-

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 8:50 PM - Another kind of non-descript day here with the exception of a little time I got to spend with Tom WY3H and Mike KC2EGL. Tom came over to get our RockMite kit mailed to the winner of the January mW NAQCC sprint, and then we visited for a while after that.

Mike stopped by after his visit to Golf Galaxy in Pittsburgh. I think that's the name of it. Anyway it must be something like the holodeck on the Star Trek spaceship. At the golf place you can play 18 holes on a simulated version of any golf course in the world. Mike said he and his friend played at the old St. Andrew's course today. I'm not a golfer here, and never have been except for some miniature golf many years ago, but that really sounds fascinating.

Mike and I listened to the bands a bit while he was here, and he worked P49V Carl down in Aruba on 20M. I'm guessing that was AI6V operating there. He was one of the first couple dozen or so DX stations I worked when I became active again in the early 1990's.

Right now as you can figure from the dateline above, it's almost 9 PM now and time to get my daily weather readings and take Joe for his 9 o'clock walk.

Oh, before I go, I got some good news from Dave VA3RJ. He said my QSO with K5D is definitely in the K5D on-line log, so that removes any doubt that it may have been a bootlegger I worked the other evening. -30-

Sunday, February 15, 2009 8:24 PM - Wow, I actually worked DX two days in a row! After catching K5D on Desecheo last night, this evening while checking to see if K5D was on 20M, I heard and worked P40MH operated by OH0BAD easily. I didn't hear K5D on 20M though. I don't know how hard I'll try to get them on different bands. I'm satisfied just getting them on 30 so far.

Mike KC2EGL came down from Brookville today, and we continued work on the KX-1 Kit NAQCC project. Of course, I can't say any more about it, since the story of the kit construction is an exclusive of the NAQCC newsletter. Mike said they had 4 inches of snow up in Brookville yesterday while we only had a few flakes 40 miles SW of there. We also had a few more flakes today. But basically for mid-February, the weather is great. There's virtually no snow left except a couple places where it plowed into big piles, and the temps have been just at or a little above average.

Well, time now for a mid-evening snack, then I can wrap up the results of our NAQCC sprint since the log submission deadline passed about an hour and a half ago. I was disappointed in only getting 44 logs this month, our lowest total in several months now. Hopefully things will pick back up again in March. -30-

Saturday, February 14, 2009 6:36 PM - ADDENDUM 8:30 PM: K5D was a piece of cake on 30 meters at 0113Z near 10.108 MHz. I think I found him just starting tonight on 30, as he called a few CQ's with no answers. Took me just two calls to get him after I got nervous and had trouble setting up the 480 in a hurry for split frequency before the hungry pack arrived. That's DXCC entity # 207 worked now QRP/CW/simple wire antennas. That leaves me only one North American entity to work - KP1 Navassa Island.

That was a real struggle updating my poll just now. Cotter KJ6EB suggesting an intriguing poll for this month. I hope you'll cast your vote. Last month's poll got votes from 322 different hams, probably one of my best turnouts, although it's hard to say because of the different ways my different poll providers counted voters over the years.

Getting back on track, I kept losing two choices in this latest poll when I created it on the pollcode.com site. I'd type in 12 answers and it only accepted 10 of them. Finally after yelling at the computer a few times, I analyzed the situation to see if it was dropping the same two answers. It was, so I looked for something common to both of them. Aha, they both had a slant bar (/) in the answer. So I changed it to a hyphen (-) in one answer and " or " in the other one. Bingo! That fixed things up just fine. Computers are the stwangest people! I enjoy fighting with them and figuring things out even though it does get frustrating at times. -30-

Friday, February 13, 2009 10:30 PM - My QSO of the day was an interesting one that shows just what QRP can do when using CW. I worked Mike AA1TJ in Vermont who was running all of 90 milliwatts output power. That's not as remarkable as the fact he was copying me on a receiver that had 2 diodes for a detector with NO amplification. I haven't looked myself yet, but Mike has info about his station on his web site at http://mjrainey.googlepages.com/radio

K5D on Desecheo was very strong on 30M, but I couldn't hear the stations he was working, so I didn't have a good idea of where he was listening. Had I known, I may have been able to work him. I tried guessing a frequency but no luck. Oh well, it's not a matter of life and death if I do or do not work them. I still have quite a bit of time to try if I feel so inclined. -30-

Thursday, February 12, 2009 8:50 PM - I'm still puzzled by our sprint results from Tuesday evening. With some 45 or so logs processed so far, only two stations seemed to have had really good conditions and did well - K3WWP with 28 QSO's and N1LU with 27. No one else had more than 17 QSO's so far. I know we've had black hole sprints before. Did N1LU and I have white holes this sprint, or what? Of course I used my attic random wire, and Don uses a Cobra Ultralight @ 40 feet, so neither of us have dominant antennas by any means.

Our warm weather has come to an end. Now it's cool. Actually still a couple degrees above normal, but not the 20-25 degrees above normal of the past few days. Ice jams up river have broken loose, and it was interesting watching the ice come down the river today. It did something unusual - let's see if I can describe it. It looked like the river came up maybe 2-3 feet for a short period of time. During that time it deposited a whole bunch of ice along the sloping river bank. Then when it dropped suddenly, it looked like there was a secondary river bank made of ice extending out about 50 feet from the regular bank, and ending with a sudden drop off of about 3 feet. There was also a lot of water trapped in this secondary bank. Maybe saying it looked something like a double layer river is another way of describing it. The main river was flowing along speedily alongside the secondary river (or new bank) which was stationary like a calm pond full of chunks of ice. I took some pictures of the phenomenon but it was getting dark, and also the perspective probably wasn't as pronounced in the photos as in my live view. I haven't downloaded them from the camera yet. If they do show up good, I'll put one here later.

OK here we go. The red arrows point to the boundary between the two levels. That in the lower part of the picture is about 3 feet higher than that in the upper part of the picture. The lower part is stationary while the upper part is flowing rapidly downstream towards the bridge.
pix_diary_20090212_01 (67K)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009 10:36 PM - I'm way behind schedule after a very busy day, so little time for a diary entry. The day started off with a bunch of NAQCC work - log processing, new members, etc. Then I took Joe for a walk, after which my neighbor took me shopping out to our mall. Home for supper, then a nice walk in the 65 degree weather. When I got home, my cousin wanted to know if I wanted to go for a walk, so another nice long walk in the now a tad cooler weather. Just over 10 miles on my pedometer today (so far). Then computer club meeting. Home to walk Joe again. Now to get my QSO of the day, which I did. Then a snack and typing my diary entry (which I'm doing both now). I'll post this then process some more NAQCC logs and memberships. Whew! CU tomorrow. -30-

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:46 PM - With our NAQCC sprint coming up in a couple hours, I thought I'd do my diary entry now.

Well, I did manage to overtax my computer with the WWT program today. It wouldn't handle an extremely graphics intense sky tour. But that's a shortcoming of the integrated graphics in my computer and nothing wrong with Microsoft's WWT program at all. I'll just have to avoid that particular tour until I get some more computing power here.

We had some rain today which held temps down this morning, but after lingering in the mid 30's, we finally did make it to around 50 by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow should be interesting with 65 degrees predicted along with some thunderstorms. This is early February, isn't it, or did I sleep through a month or so? -30-

Monday, February 09, 2009 10:08 PM - I talked about Microsoft's World Wide Telescope a few months ago here in the diary. I had kind of forgotten about it for a couple reasons. First I have just been overwhelmed with work (I need to get a real job so I can have some free time - this 'retired' work seems to be almost 24/7 at times) and I didn't think my computer had the computing power to handle it anyway after seeing the system requirements.

Well anyway, I wound up checking it out again yesterday and found it was now in Beta release. I didn't remember the system requirements from my previous check a few months ago, but they didn't seem to be as far out of hand now. So I decided to download it and give it a try. The install went as smooth as silk as with all Microsoft products, and I anxiously fired it up expecting to get some kind of a message about my system not being powerful enough to handle it.

That didn't happen. I did get an opeining screen about setting up data when I first started the program, and it looked like it was going to take forever, but after just 3 or 4 blocks of the very long progress bar turned green (or was it blue - I forget), the program started up, and I started to play with it. WOW!!! What a spectacular program it is. I've played with a lot of astronomy programs in my time, and this one ranks right up there at the top with only Starry Night Deluxe being perhaps an equal or close second, and Microsoft's WWT is FREE while Starry Night Deluxe is quite costly.

Oh, I suspect the program would run a bit better with the system requirements they suggest, but outside of the display taking a few seconds longer to complete when rendering fields with a LOT of stars, it runs quite well on my 5 year old computer and its integrated graphics. A separate graphics card and more RAM with a dual core processor should make screen updates instantaneous instead of taking a few seconds.

If you're into astronomy as I am, this is definitely a program for you. I highly recommend it after playing with it a few hours last night and today. I'm going back and play some more now, in fact. Just as soon as I finish some NAQCC and web site updates. -30-

Sunday, February 08, 2009 8:09 PM - I'm writing this in the midst of my mid-evening snack after which I'm going to take Joe for a walk, then get my temperature readings for the day. It was a little cooler today as a bit of Canadian air slipped down here and held temps in the 40's, but our snow melt continued and my back yard which I showed you yesterday is almost all bare grass now except for a bit of snow behind the thermometer shelter against the fence. That should go tomorrow or Tuesday.

The front of the house is another story as it doesn't get any sun until late afternoon, plus the snow from the walk is piled up on the front lawn. Still it may also be pretty much all gone by mid-week as well.

I'm glad to see two NAQCC members have already completed our February Challenge. One of them a first time participant in our challenges. I'm about 60 percent complete here in my very casual operating which seems the norm for me of late. I never even got into any of the many contests this weekend.

I've also got from that casual operating 17 area codes towards the FISTS Area Code Award.

Well, I better get going. Joe will be anxiously awaiting to go out, I'm sure. -30-

Saturday, February 07, 2009 10:49 PM - Here's a short looping animated gif of one of my favorite sights:

Yep, that's the ugly snow melting in my back yard bringing the lovely sight of grass back into view. There's nothing else to match it this time of year.

It was more like a mid-March melt than an early February one. We hit 56 degrees today and it stayed there most of the day after it got there between 10 and 11 AM. It's still in the upper 40's at almost 11 PM. If it holds in the mid-upper 40's during the night, a lot more of that snow will be gone when I wake up tomorrow morning. That loop only covered about 10:30 AM to 5 PM. A lot more melted after that this evening.

And with that I bring today to a close here and go get a 'midnight' snack now. -30-

Friday, February 06, 2009 5:19 PM - Like the ancients who followed the advance of the seasons with their monoliths and the stars, I like to follow the course of winter. I do not like the snow, ice, and cold of winter so I look for all kinds of signs to signal this horrid season is coming to an end.

Today was one such event. It's the first time in winter I can see the sunset from my shack window. I have to press my face against the glass and look sideways to do it, but unfailingly each Feb 6 (give or take a day or so) I know I will be able to get a glimpse of the setting sun if the weather permits. From now on more and more sunlight will find its way into my bedroom where my shack is located.

At one time I had a list of some 25 or so events, but I've lost track of it somewhere in all the hustle and bustle of the past few years. However I have re-created a smaller list here to show you what I mean. Each time one of those events occur, I know the end of winter is that much closer.

Dec 1 - 1st day of meteorological winter
Dec 7/8 - Earliest sunset
Dec 21 - Shortest amount of daylight
Dec 25 - Christmas
Jan 1 - Sirius transits at midnight
Jan 4 - Latest sunrise
Jan 20 - Sun sets a half hour later now
Feb 2 - Groundhog day
Feb 5/6 - Sunset visible from my shack window
Feb 13 - Sun sets a full hour later now
Feb 20 - Sun seems to turn up its heat a bit and snow melts faster
Feb 28/29 - Last day of meteorological winter

Some of the dates vary by a day or so from year to year, but they are still reliable landmarks on the trail to the end of winter.

If my longer list should turn up somewhere before the end of winter, I'll post it here.

Incidentally another sign that is not predictable is a good snow melt. That can happen anytime in winter. Today we are at the start of what promises to be a nice melt over the next week or so. It was so nice to see water running down the sidewalks and streets as I went for a walk in the low-mid 40's temperatures today. And so nice to see some grass in spots again, even though its not the rich green of spring now. -30-

Thursday, February 05, 2009 10:08 PM - I actually got outside for a decent walk today. It wasn't all that nice out, but I just had to get out. Actually it was sunny, but very cold with temps only in the mid teens. Tomorrow the February thaw gets underway with temps in the low to mid 30's, and then goes up to perhaps 50 by Sunday and the highs look to be staying in the 40s at least through Thursday although with the weather changing so rapidly this time of year, that prediction could change.

I took advantage of the sunshine to give my tomato plants a few more hours of rays today. The growth of the true leaves continues at a nice pace.

Although my time is very limited for getting on the air, I'm gradually adding area codes to my quest for the FISTS Area Code award. I got 807 from Thunder Bay, Ontario this evening. And I've got 39 letters so far for our NAQCC February Challenge. I hope to get a lot more in the several contests this weekend, including the VT, DE, MN, NM, and BC QSO parties, and maybe the NA Sprint, although that is not one of my favorite contests, by far. -30-

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 9:41 PM - Pretty much a run of the mill today with nothing out of the ordinary happening. I did a littl more cleaning out, catching up on computer things today. I got all my digital photos since November cataloged today. I also archived a lot of different material to my external 500 GB hard drive.

I can almost see my tomatoes growing now. They seem to do it in spurts of a day or so, then rest a couple of days before the next spurt. While cataloging my photos, I checked up on my tomato plant pictures from the past couple years, and as far as I can tell, my plants this year are 3-4 weeks ahead of 2007 and 2008. So if the growth rate continues that way and nothing happens, I may make my goal of a ripe garden tomato by May 15th.

I'm really getting cabin fever here now. I haven't had a decent long outside walk probably since early January now. About the only outside walks I am doing now are those short walks when I take Joe out. Otherwise it's just too slippery out there to risk walking too far. Hopefully the warm-up scheduled for Friday through at least Wednesday will help to make things better. -30-

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 10:25 PM - I spent a good part of today getting caught up on some computer things. I hadn't recorded my LotW and eQSL matches/QSL cards for a while, and had some 200 or so of each to get logged. That was the main thing along with some other NAQCC and personal web site updates, etc.

One thing I didn't do while working with LotW and eQSL was note how many I had of each so I'm going to pause a minute here and check that. I have 70,271 QSO's posted on LotW and they result in 9,036 matches. I have 'only' around 50,000 or so QSO's posted on eQSL since I've only posted my QSO's since 1990 there. That gives me 7,177 eQSL QSL cards.

It's interesting to note that I only have about a dozen LotW matches from the 1960's and 1 from the 1980's. The rest are from 1992 on. So you can pretty much say that my LotW percentage is about 9,000/50,000 or 18 percent. The eQSL percentage is about 7,000/50,000 or 14 percent. I have no idea what that means or if it has any relevance to anything, but I thought I'd pass it along.

And now (a la Monty Python) for something completely different. Here's a picture of my tomatoes basking in natural sunlight for the first time a couple days ago. Today the first true leaves you see there are nearly twice as big, so either it's just time to start growing or the sunlight helped them along.
pix_diary_20090203_01 (41K)


Monday, February 02, 2009 10:22 PM - Six more weeks of winter according to Phil. However I heard a much more reliable forecast from Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather who is perhaps the dean of long range weather forecasting and always pretty close to the mark. He says a big warm up the first half of February, but then back below normal from mid-February through mid-March. It's encouraging to realize though that there are only 26 days till the end of meteorogolical winter.

I finally got up the courage to re-boot my computer today and it went very smoothly and the shortcomings from the last re-boot a few days ago are now corrected. I'm just about certain my problems are related to that 1GB memory board and I'm going to contact the company "4 All Memory" about a replacement or refund.

Actually I had 3 successful re-boot's today, as I downloaded and installed the latest version of the greatest browser Internet Explorer which is now in 8 RC-1 or 8 Release Candidate 1. The install went as usual with Microsoft projects - smooth as silk including the two necessary re-boots. I haven't really noticed any difference from IE 8 Beta 2, so all the updates must be 'under the hood' somewhere. Well actually come to think about it, I believe the colors of the tabs may be a bit brighter now, but I'm not sure. At any rate, it works great, as expected.

We had a bit more of a snow melt today as we got up to 38 degrees, and there are now some bare spots on the ground where the original snowfall wasn't disturbed. Still a lot left in the piles from shovelling it around though. With this coming weekend predicted to be around 50 degrees for the high each day we may take care of quite a bit more of the snow and ice then. Just in time for the return of winter in mid-February, I guess. -30-

Sunday, February 01, 2009 9:57 PM - If we applied the lion/lamb saying to all twelve months instead of just March, I'd have to say February came in like a lamb for sure this year. It was bright and sunny most of the daylight hours today. With the sun shining brightly in my kitchen window, I gave my tomato babies their first solid dose of true sunlight for several hours today. They are still coming nicely with the first true leaves continuing to show signs of growth.

I also took advantage of the nice day to take Joe for a couple longer than usual walks today. He really enjoyed them and after one of them he was reluctant to go back inside. Usually he is eager to get back indoors.

I've got 19 letters so far in our February NAQCC Challenge. I intend to work a bit harder on it than I did for the January Challenge. Those of our members who had the time are turning in some nice totals of mW QSO's for that challenge.

I wonder what Punxsutawney Phil will predict tomorrow, as if it matters. It would be nice if he didn't see his shadow and winter would come to an end now, but.... In doing my weather records for January late last night I found the month was 5 degrees below normal which was the coldest January we've had since 2003/04 and before that since 1994. In all three of those years, February was also below normal, but not as much. So based on that, it's likely February will be a little below normal this year. Let's see if my prediction matches or disagrees with Phil's. -30-

Saturday, January 31, 2009 2:15 PM - Thanks to Dave VA3RJ for pointing me to the 2008 IARU HF Championships results. I see I finished 6th in the QRP CW-only W/VE category with a minimum 4.5 hour effort. It's nice when you don't have a lot of competition.

Now I'd like to talk about this month's poll at its halfway mark. Let's look at the very last answer to the poll - When were you first licensed and what age were you then?

That last answer is "before 1960 - over 50". Amazingly that answer was chosen 8 times. Why do I say amazing? Think about it. Let's look at the extreme choice that fits the answer. If someone were licensed on December 31, 1959 and celebrated their 50th birthday on December 30, 1959, they would have been born on December 30, 1909 and hence would be 99 years old as of the start of the poll on January 15, 2009.

Something fishy there? I would say very likely since those 8 folks who chose that answer would be at least 99 years old and probably even older. I just can't believe that folks that old would all be visiting my web site and voting in the poll. In fact I wonder just how many 99+ years old hams there are in the world still active enough to be on the Internet at all?

What do you think? I think the folks misunderstood the choice or were just fooling around with my poll. I would rate the chance of it being accurate as virtually nil.

If you voted for that choice and are actually 99+ years old, I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email with your ham history. I'm sure it would be fascinating to read. -30-

Friday, January 30, 2009 9:46 PM - Yet one more very busy day processing new NAQCC members, and finalizing the NAQCC newsletter for release at 2300Z this evening. Man if this was a paying job, I'd be rich, but the only pay I get is the satisfaction of knowing I'm helping the preserve the wonderful heritage of CW, and keeping it going on the bands. That makes it all worthwhile.

Still it leaves me little time for much of anything else. And what time is left I spend doing something equally rewarding - being a caregiver to my neighbor. She's coming along quite well actually, and I may be out of a job there before too much longer as she becomes more and more well and independent. That's great that she's come through the knee replacement so well. Oh, and of course I also take time with Joe to take him out for a walk or just have him sit on my lap for a while.

I haven't had much time to do much walking lately. I mean outside - I do walk to get my exercise inside the house to the tune of a few miles a day, but it's just not the same. As soon as you reach one end of the house, you have to turn and come back and do the lap again. HI. However with all the ice and snow outside, it's probably a lot safer. I don't even have to walk to the store as I go with my neighbor either with me or her driving her car.

My computer seems to be still hanging in there. I did look at a couple new ones at Wal-Mart today and may wind up getting one in February some time. I need a new toy anyway, and I would like to upgrade to Vista. Actually I'd love to wait and upgrade to Windows 7, as it sounds like a really exciting new operating system which took the best from Vista, corrected some minor shortcomings from that system, and added more new bells and whistles. I've gotten the feeling that Vista was like Windows ME and Windows 2000 - kind of an interim system to satisfy demand for something new from consumers. With ME and 2000, it was the gap between 98 and XP. With Vista, it's the gap between XP and 7. Always something great and exciting coming out of Redmond.

Oh, the tomatoes. The first true leaves are coming along nicely. Once they finally popped out, they are growing rapidly. I think they doubled in size the past day or two. Still not all that big, but... -30-

Thursday, January 29, 2009 6:49 PM - After a few unsuccessful boot attempts and replacing the new memory chip with my old one this morning, the computer finally came on, and has been working all day, but still with some problems. After we get through with our NAQCC recruitment blitz and this weekend's NAQCC newsletter, I think I'm either going to do some serious checking and work on this computer or just go out and get a new one so I can transfer as much as possible to it before this one does give up the ghost.

We never realize how much we depend on something till we don't have it. That's true with computers also, especially in my case with all the NAQCC data I have here. Of course the critical files are backed up to CD regularly, but still a dead computer would really put me behind in my work for quite a while as setting up a new one always takes time.

I've signed up 185 new members the past two days thanks to the fine letter written by Paul KD2MX and distributed virtually everywhere in the world that knows about CW and QRP by Dave VA3RJ. It's a blessing to have these two working for the club. It still seems far-fetched, but maybe, just maybe we can reach my goal of 5,000 NAQCC members by 2010. -30-

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:52 PM - After a couple of days working OK, I'm getting some memory read errors again with the computer. I'm now wondering if that new memory board is bad or if the whole computer is just starting to show its age after 5 years of hard work. In fact it will be 5 years old in just about a week. Perhaps its time to upgrade to a new computer. So if you don't see anything in the diary one day, its probably the computer, not me.

We got about 110 new NAQCC members from our latest recruitment blitz now. So processing those took up a lot of my time today.

We made out pretty good from the latest winter storm here. Just a couple of inches of snow that soon became slush when rain fell on top of it. Almost nothing in the way of actual freezing rain, but the slush froze up after the cold front passage late this afternoon, and it's a bit of a mess out there not, but could have been a lot worse.

Not much more for this entry. I'm pretty much ready for bed now. -30-

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:35 PM - Another of those all-too-frequent very busy days today. It sure beats the days with nothing to do though, so don't take that as a complaint.

Took my neighbor for some blood work early today and then she and I did some of my errands and some of her shopping while the weather was still nice. Then I spent some time playing with Joe. Later on Dave VA3RJ did one of our NAQCC recruiting blitzes and I spent quite a bit of the rest of the day processing new applications with time out for watching Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune at my neighbors, and a little later taking Joe for a little walk and getting my temperature readings. Now at 11:38 PM I'm going to get a midnight snack and get to bed.

For those following my tomato exploits, not a lot to report, but the first real leaves are starting to grow somewhat now after their long rest. I put my "sun" a little closer to the plants today to give them some stronger light. Hopefully that will help them to get growing faster. -30-

Monday, January 26, 2009 4:00 PM - I thought I'd write this a bit earlier in the day today. I'm just sitting here waiting for my neighbor to come home from the hairdresser so I can put her car away before I start supper. Our street is very icy where she parks, so she stops at another spot, and I take the car from there after she gets out.

Earlier today, I got my 3 needed mW QSO's to get a participation point for the NAQCC January challenge. It was very easy, taking about 45 minutes with 3 nice rag chews along the way.

Other than that, I've been getting caught up on a lot of computer work that I slipped behind on this past week with a lot of other things to take care of.

Oh, pulling the 1GB memory board, dusting the socket and re-seating it has made the computer work beautifully now. It's now behaving like I thought it should when I first installed the board. I just wasn't getting all the speed increase I thought I should. Now that the memory errors made me re-install the board, it is much faster and error-free. So I guess I didn't have it quite seated completely in the socket at first. Hope I don't jinx things now by talking about it. -30-

Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:48 PM - I am bushed. Just finished cross-checking our NAQCC regular sprint logs. I think we set a record for the number of errors found in a cross-check. Whew!

Had another good time with Mike today working on our KX-1 project. As always I can't talk about it here. You'll have to check the NAQCC newsletter for info as the project and its story are an exclusive for the newsletter.

I realized today I need 3 more mW QSO's this month for my January NAQCC Participation point, so I'll be trying to get them in the little time I have left.

Need a midnight snack, then off to bed so I'm outta here. -30-

Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:34 PM - I spent a good part of today fighting with my computer. I was getting a lot of memory read errors, and it finally dawned on me that maybe I should try taking out that 1GB memory board I installed a couple weeks ago, blow any dust out of the socket, and replace it. I did that and also did the same to the older 256MB board, put the computer back together, and it seems to be better now. So it could be just a dirty connection in the memory board socket. I'll have to work with the computer for a while longer to be sure.

I'm seeing the start of some regular leaves on my tomato plants finally. They're very tiny and hiding between the seed leaves, but they are definitely there. I also thinned out one plant that wasn't going anywhere, and I think there is one more that is not going to make it. So that makes my job of deciding which ones to remove a little easier. I have one pot with 1 plant, one with a strong and a weak plant, and one with two strong ones, and one weak one now.

I also did some cooking today. I made some doughnuts and some hush puppies in my deep fat frier. I think my 4th try at hushpuppies now is the best I've done so far. They seem to be more tricky than the doughnuts.

Mike KC2EGL is coming back tomorrow to do some more on our NAQCC KX-1 Kit project. I wrote an article for the newsletter today describing what we did this past week, and will add to it what we do tomorrow. I think you'll find it interesting if you're a NAQCC member with access to the newsletter.

I didn't spend too much time with Joe today, as my neighbor was watching her grandkids this evening, and since they only come once a week, I usually let her and Joe alone when they are there. I am going to check to see if he needs to go out at 9 o'clock when I get bundled up to get my temperature readings. We're back to winter again today after the thaw yesterday, and all that did thaw is now a lot of ice. So once again my walking was confined to walking indoors. -30-

Friday, January 23, 2009 10:48 PM - We had our January thaw today - literally. The temperature rose into the lower 50's and melted most of the snow off my roof and reduced our snow pack in general about 50 percent. It was really nice to be outside. Unfortunately that comes to a screeching halt later tonight as the next arctic invasion starts.

It is interesting to note, although keeping in mind that statistics can be twisted to prove just about anything, that there does appear to be such a thing as a January thaw that shows up as a slight rise in the temperature normals for a few days around this time of winter after which the normals drop again.

One of the Penn State meteorologists had a good explanation of just why that happens. However I just can't remember now exactly what it was since that was many years ago. I'm not even sure who the meteorologist was. It might have been Mark Mancuso, but I don't really know.

I was kind of disappointed in our NAQCC 160M sprint last night. Even more so today when I saw only a handful of logs come in. We had a great turnout in January 2008 for this special sprint, but not this year. I think perhaps everyone got turned off by the strong special event station right in the midst of the sprint frequency range, not to mention some other kind of contest or pile-up or whatever it was which was also right where our suggested sprint frequency range was. I know no one owns any frequency, but.....

Our regular sprint on the other hand turned out very well. I believe we're just about at the 50 log submissions mark right now, and there are many more calls than that showing up in those logs as I glance at them before doing the final cross-checking on Sunday or Monday.

I had my usual good times with Joe today. A friend of mine who visited today and knows a lot more about dogs than I do suggested after looking at him that Joe might have some Sheltie or Miniature Collie mixed in with the Chihuahua. Whatever the breed he sure is a wonderful friendly little dog. -30-

Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:45 PM - Well for yet another day, the diary entry will be very short. Mike and I put in another day today on the KX-1 project, and then for the second evening in a row, we had an NAQCC sprint, this time our annual 160M sprint. So that plus the daily routine things ate up most of the day so far, and now like last night I've got logs to process. Seems like the past two days have been almost identical copies. Tomorrow should be a bit less busy though, and I can use a less busy day - not that the past couple haven't been enjoyable - they have - very much so.

We actually had a quasi-warm day today with an even warmer one coming up tomorrow. When Mike and I came out of Long John Silver's after lunch, there was actually a hint of warmth in the air.

Just a brief report on the tomatoes before I close. The report is that there is not much to report. They seem to be just resting up a bit after breaking out of the ground and their seed coatings. Hardly any change or growth noticeable the past 4 or 5 days now. -30-

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 11:59 PM - It's actually after midnight and I'm only going to say I had another fun busy day with Mike KC2EGL on the KX-1 project, and my best NAQCC sprint since October as the bands, well 80M anyway, were in excellent shape this evening. More another time...zzzzzz.... -30-

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 9:52 PM - This was a momentous day today. And one I'll remember for a while. Mike KC2EGL and I resumed work on our NAQCC KX-1 kit building project. It's always a great time Mike and I have together whether kit building or doing anything else. Other than that, nothing much else good happened anywhere today that I can think of.

Oh, I did get to take Joe for a little walk a few minutes ago. That's always something good. And my tomato plants are coming along good. I'm still patiently waiting for the first non-seed leaves to appear though.

I guess the fact that it hasn't snowed appreciably the past couple days now is also something good. Plus a little of the snow we have had is starting to melt. That's definitely good news.

Getting back to the KX-1 project, I can't really say any more about it since it is an exclusive story for our NAQCC Newsletter. If you want to read more about it, you'll have to join the NAQCC (it's free) and find out how things are going. Whether it was smooth sailing or if we had difficulties, whatever. There, is that enough of a tease to make you want to find out.

And Mike's coming back tomorrow and Thursday to continue work on the project. All of that will be described in the newsletter of January 31 or perhaps will have to be spread out over the next couple newsletters. -30-

Monday, January 19, 2009 9:06 PM - I've got a whole bunch of new NAQCC members to sign up tonight following our publicity blitz about our sprints coming up this week, so the only thing in the diary now will be this picture of my little friend Joe.
pix_diary_20090119_01 (37K)


Sunday, January 18, 2009 6:42 PM - As I said yesterday, we're putting the global warming topic to rest. Thanks for all your comments on the issue. I appreciate them even though I'm not going to add them to the diary nor comment further on them.

I want to get back to some ham radio topics. In our NAQCC newsletter that was published this weekend, there are a couple things I want to elaborate on here for those who may not read the newsletter, but do read the diary. I don't know why that would be the case, but.....

I mentioned in the newsletter that we are planning a special celebration this October to celebrate the club's 5th anniversary. We're not releasing details publicly yet, but we are asking for those NAQCC members who would be interested in helping out to contact us via email. There's no obligation at this point. We just want to send you the details, and then you can make a final decision to help out or not.

Another thing we mentioned in the newsletter was the new FISTS Area Code Award that I've also mentioned here in the diary. I thought it would be nice to acknowledge the first NAQCC member to earn the award somehow. That somehow hasn't been decided yet, but we have contacted Nancy WZ8C and Dennis K6DF of FISTS to be sure it would be OK with them to do so. We at the NAQCC always check things out when we do something that involves another club. Both Nancy and Dennis liked the idea, so if you're interested and a NAQCC member, we'll have more details in the next newsletter due out on January 31. Oh, and the NAQCC member must also be a FISTS member to be eligible for whatever certificate or award we decide upon.

I'm up to 9 area codes worked now, and will be going for #10 in a few minutes when I go to the shack to get my QSO of the day for the 19th (UTC)

I think I'll try to get a digital photo of my little friend Joe and post it here in the diary sometime this week. -30-

Saturday, January 17, 2009 8:01 PM - After a frigid morning with a low temperature of -13 F in my thermometer shelter it "warmed" up a bit ever since then and now is around 15 above or so.

I thought you'd like to see the effect of Algore's global warming on my neighbor's house in these pictures I took this morning.
pix_diary_20090117_01 (31K)

You can plainly see that the global heat completely melted all the snow on the roof and around the gutters leaving not a trace of snow nor ice at all.

I'm getting tired of this global warming stuff, and I think I've made my point about how I feel about it and the head proponent of it.

I'm continuing to have fun with the new FISTS Area Code award. I thought it might provoke some confusion when I mentioned it in my QSO's and asked for the person's area code, but so far everything has gone perfectly and I've collected a new AC in each of my last 9 QSO's now with no trouble at all.

And I did it left-handed for the most part. I'm getting better and better at sending that way on a straight key. It's funny the reaction I get sometimes. If I put my right hand on the desk in close to a position I would use if sending right-handed, I can actually sense my brain trying to switch sending the keying message over to the right hand and I get a bit sloppy with the left hand at that moment. If I hold my right hand in some other position, the effect is much less, although still slightly noticeable.

For the second night in a row, after having no answers to my CQ's on 80M, I switched over to 160M and got an answer quite quickly. 40M remains virtually dead here after sunset. Even with the HA DX contest going on (I think), I didn't hear but one signal on 40M around 0000Z, and he was in a rag chew. Still the SF is remaining above 70 for yet another day, so maybe, just maybe..... -30-

Friday, January 16, 2009 8:43 PM - It's cold, and Paul N0NBD agrees, "Hi John, I agree strongly with your comments regarding Algore. The only time the news media talks global warming it is August in Kansas and it is hot then anyhow. I do not believe we have any warming here as well. It was 5 degrees this morning and warmed up to about 12 and now it is 8 degrees. At least the wind is light at 1 mph. I did like the new poll and am tracking the results. Stay warm and safe de Paul N0NBD"

There is global warming around my tomato plants with the heating pad and fluorescent lighting, and they are acting like it. All 7 plants are now out of their seed pods with their seed leaves wide open. Now comes the tough decision in a couple weeks - thinning them out to 1 or maybe 2 plants per pot. I'd like to make it 1 per pot so there is no sharing of energy, nutrients, etc. So hopefully in the 2 multi-tomato pots, one plant will emerge as dominant.

It looks like Mike KC2EGL and I will be getting back to our KX-1 building project on Tuesday and possibly get in a lot of building time then and the next couple days as well. I'm looking forward to that.

I've been enjoying visiting with my little friend Joe next door. Not enough to consider getting a dog of my own though. I just wouldn't have enough time to devote to a dog.

Have you noticed on my propagation table that the solar flux has been hovering around the 71 mark for several days now? I wonder if old sol is finally tired of pushing the snooze button and deciding to get up and become active again. We shall see. -30-

Thursday, January 15, 2009 12:13 PM - As I sit here looking out at globally warmed Kittanning, I wonder what it would be like without Algore's global warming. At noon, it's 9 degrees with a wind blowing that makes it seem like about 10 below. Tomorrow it's going to go all the way up to 4 degrees after a low tonight of -5.

I see there are 28 votes in my new poll after not even a full day. One of the votes falls into one of 3 categories:
1. I had one of my oldest ever visitors and voters.
2. Someone did not understand the poll.
3. Someone is just being a smart-***.

One vote is for being licensed before 1960 at the age of 'over 50'. My math makes that person 100-101 years old if he was licensed in 1959 at 51 years of age, and possibly older if he were licensed earlier or at an older age. If it's a legitimate vote, I applaud that person for still being so active at that age. I hope I can do as well here.

I helped a couple of my tomato plants break out of their seed pod yesterday and now have 4 with their seed leaves open. In looking back at my pictures, I don't see comparable results in 2007 until around February 12. In 2008 it's about February 3 or so. That means I'm about 3 weeks or so ahead of schedule compared to the last two years. If they develop at the same rate, that means I may make my goal of a ripe tomato by May 15th. Stay tuned for developments. -30-

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 11:06 AM - Since I have a couple things on the slate for today including our computer club meeting this evening, I've posted my new monthly poll a bit early as well as this diary entry. I like some polls better than others, and this one I like a lot. I think it will give some meaningful and interesting results. It involves when you were first licensed and what age you were then. This is something I wasn't able to do with my previous poll provider because of the different layouts the two poll providers offered.

Well, off to do some chores now. -30-

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 10:34 PM - Ever have "writers' block"? I seem to have it right now. I really don't know what to write about as there is not really anything new happening that I haven't discussed in the past few entries.

I'm still waiting for more tomatoes to break out of their seed coating. A couple are almost there, but not quite.

Our weather is still very wintry and now we're going to get a cold blast that, depending on which forecast you believe, will have us around -9 to -1 for a low Friday morning with a high Friday around 4 to 7. Not all that close to a record, but still after being spoiled by mild winters for the past few years now, it will really feel like record cold. Oh, I wonder what Algore and his global warming disciples will have to say about this winter. They'll probably say this is just an anomaly whereas they refuse to believe that the past few years could also be an anomaly. It's amazing how folks can twist statistics to serve their own purposes. Or twist facts to forward their own political views, for that matter. -30-

Monday, January 12, 2009 9:41 PM - Not a lot of time to talk today, and not a lot of new things to talk about. So that works out well.

I do have a new little friend. My neighbor with the knee replacement now has a little dog. The dog is a Long-haired Chihuahua and some other breed. Name is Joe, and he's a very friendly dog. I'm not really much of a dog person. Never had one of my own and don't honestly care for most of them, but Joe is an exception, as are Tom WY3H's dogs that I've talked about before here in the diary.

No updates on the tomatoes. Still 7 of them, and 6 still have the seed cover on them, although a couple more look like they may break out soon.

Oh, and I'm still working on re-arranging my SkyDrive pictures trying to get them grouped more logically. That's one of the hardest things to do with any photo collection. Should I arrange them by date, by persons in the photos, by location, by topic, or what? Then when you do come up with an arrangement, you decide that you probably have done it another way, and on and on it goes.

Basically what I'm doing is putting all my ham radio related pictures (for example) in subfolders under a main Ham Radio folder. The sub-folders then are Antennas, My Ham History, etc. Likewise with a main Gardening folder that contains My Vegetable Garden, My Flower Garden, My Friend Ange's Garden, etc.

And I guess that about covers things for today. -30-

Sunday, January 11, 2009 8:01 PM - I now have 7 little tomato plants starting. OK let's see where I was going with this. My neighbor just came over and visited for about an hour. Oh yes, the one that popped out yesterday came right out of its seed and has two big seed leaves already....well maybe not that big, but they are wide open as you can see here.

pix_diary_20090111_01 (50K)

You'll also note two other little plants starting to the lower left of the big plant. All the other plants are still seed-bound. I hope they can break out OK. Sometimes they don't, and die. We'll see what happens.

I got back in the NAQP about 0445Z last night and got 56 QSO's in the last 75 minutes - all on 80 and 160 meters. Both those bands were really great. I worked several W7 stations and even a CA station easily on 80 meters, and easily to MN and IA on 160 meters. I wound up with around 30 or so states on 80 meters. That was a lot of fun. I kind of wish I'd put more hours in the contest now. I probably did only about 4 hours or so. In fact I think I'll see just how much time I did put in...... roughly 4 hours and 15 mins so that's a rate of about 37 per hour. Not too bad considering some of the time on 20 and 40 was fairly slow now and then.

I'm still working on my left-handed sending and getting some interesting comments when I mention it in QSO's. Most say I'm coming along pretty well, although I don't know if they are just being kind or if I really am doing well. Being a perfectionist to a degree, maybe I'm more critical of myself than I should be.

I'm also starting on my collection of area codes for the new FISTS award with the two I worked this evening - 717 and 973. That's really going to be a lot of fun and as the FISTS rules mention, should make for some more to talk about in QSO's. -30-

Saturday, January 10, 2009 6:36 PM - Winter has arrived with a vengeance. We got about 7.5 inches of snow today, and it really is depressing to think that it probably will stay around long past its welcome since we are supposed to have a very cold week coming up. Bah humbug.

At least there is some hope as I look across the room here. I now have 3 tiny baby tomato plants started. One more appeared in the same pot as the one I showed you yesterday and one in another pot. The third pot is still barren.

Today is one of my favorite ham radio contests, yet I'm not really in a contesting mood. I did make 58 QSO's so far and will definitely get in after 0000Z again to get my streak QSO, and I may stick around and shoot for 100 QSO's if I feel like it then. A far cry from the peak sunspot years when I broke the 500 QSO mark a couple times in these NAQP's.

I did have one bright moment in the contest though. I worked New Mexico with 930 milliwatts. That's my 47th mW state now. I need ND, AK, and HI for a mW WAS. Had I kept after it in the sunspot max years, I'd probably easily have it now, but I gave up mW work after I got my TS-570D in 1999 and didn't pick it up again until last year when I finally built an RF attenuator. ND will be hard because it has become a rare state of late, and AK and HI will probably have to wait till the next sunspot max years.

As those of you who follow the diary know, I like 'rock' music from the 50's through the late 70's. I've been listening to a lot of it on the little MP3 player I got back on Thanksgiving day. One thing, among many, I find interesting about the music is finding songs that 'go together'. For example two of Leslie Gore's songs, "It's My Party" and "Judy's Turn To Cry". In the first song Leslie loses Johnny to Judy at her birthday party, then get's him back from Judy in the follow-up song.

I think my favorite pair of songs though come from Marty Robbins. "El Paso" and "El Paso City". "El Paso City" tells how when flying over El Paso, he gets a flashback to the events in "El Paso" and describes them wondering if he was that cowboy in the song in another life. I get a kick out of one line in "El Paso City" where Marty refers to the song "El Paso" and says he doesn't remember who sang the song, but remembers the events. If you've never heard the songs, try to listen to them both and you'll get a better idea of what I'm trying to explain. I'm sure virtually everyone has heard "El Paso" at one time or other, but "El Paso City" is not as well known - at least I don't think it is.

There are a good many songs that are related to each other, and I'm going to list just one more pairing here. Maybe you have others you'd like to bring up. You're welcome to email me with your choices.

The Four Seasons' song "Rag Doll" spawned not only a follow up song but a girl group that copied the Four Seasons style. The group was called, of course, The Rag Dolls, and the song was "Society Girl" where the girl called Rag Doll by the Seasons grew up and became a high class society girl. One reason that the Rag Dolls had the Four Seasons style was that some of the folks who worked with the Seasons on their music also worked with the Rag Dolls. -30-

Friday, January 09, 2009 7:29 PM - Looky here!

pix_diary_20090109_01 (78K)

Is that what I think it is? I'm pretty sure it is unless it's a piece of perlite in disguise.

I put a heating pad under my tomato pots a few days ago to try to speed up germination because I keep my house only around 66 degrees to conserve on gas usage and save money.

There's finally something to talk about in ham radio. There hasn't been too much lately other than our NAQCC news because of the poor propagation conditions or lack of activity on the bands, whichever it is that keeps them sounding lousy.

FISTS has come up with a great new award for the year 2009. To earn the award you make contacts with hams in 100 different telephone area codes. The codes can be anywhere in the world at a rate of 1 point per area code. I'm not going to list the entire rules here as they are in the latest Keynote, were sent out on the FISTS mailing list, and presumably are or will be on the FISTS web site.

This may give FISTS a little shot in the arm to promote more FISTS activity on the bands. I've noticed a decline in activity on the .058 frequencies lately. It could be due to the general decline in activity on the bands or it could be that everyone who is interested in the current FISTS awards have already earned them. We certainly need to keep FISTS alive and well as the primary CW preservation club on the ham bands. -30-

Thursday, January 08, 2009 8:09 PM - It's been quite a while since I added to my computer history, so let me review to see where I'm at now, and then add a bit here. In a quick look through the diary, I believe I digressed from my computers here at home and told you about the Radio Shack Model II we had at WPIT. So now I'll come back to the home computers again.

Next in line after the Model III was a Tandy 1000SX. I think I mistakenly referred to it as a 2000SX previously. It was quite a step up from the Model III. I honestly don't remember specifics now as to how much RAM it had, nor if it came with a hard drive or if I added one myself. It seems I am going to have to do some more research to give you any meaningful info about it. According to Wikipedia, the 1000SX came with 384k of memory and was upgradable to 640k. It came with either one or two internal 5.25" double density floppy drives. I believe the video was 16 color CGA if memory serves after nearly 20 years now.

I'm getting curious now and probably will have to fire up the 1000SX to get some more details about it. Oh, it had the 8088 processor, I know. I'll have more about it in a future entry before I move on to my first Quantex computer. Whatever happened to the Quantex company? I know they either folded or merged with some other company and completely lost their identity as Quantex. Let's see what the Internet says about them, if anything. They were founded in 1984 headquartered in Somerset, NJ. They lasted until August 17, 2000 when they filed for bankruptcy after their supplier company Fountain Technologies similarly filed for bankruptcy. Well, I learned something this evening. I never bothered checking on them before. -30-

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 9:47 PM - Work has slackened up a bit here, so I'm playing with the pictures on my SkyDrive site. I've put all the photo folders in the Photo section at the bottom of the page, and am adding captions to the photos that don't have them already. I think when I'm done, it will make for a more pleasant viewing experience. Also SkyDrive itself is constantly undergoing upgrades by Microsoft to make it better and better and more user-friendly. Back to the pictures now. -30-

Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:44 PM - I'm enjoying the benefit of added RAM in my computer today. I installed a 1GB memory chip (board) yesterday to replace one of the two 256MB boards so I now have about 1.25 GB of RAM. A lot of things happen faster now, especially when I have several windows open at once as I often do.

We had one of those miserable winter days today that could have been worse. A little snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain was on the agenda starting around 10 this morning and continuing still in the form of rain. There wasn't a lot of ice with the situation and shouldn't be any more as temperatures are rising and now are just at or above freezing.

I had one new diary reader ask about my tomatoes, and perhaps I should explain a bit more for any other new readers who haven't followed my gardening exploits here in the diary before.

The tomato pictured was not grown indoors, but was the last remaining tomato from when I harvested all my garden tomatoes in October. I pick all the green ones then and put them in my basement to ripen slowly. One year I had garden tomatoes into the early part of February that way. This year the last one came on January 2nd.

As for the tomatoes planted in the pots, those are Siberian tomatoes given to me by my cousin's husband several years ago. Each year I save the seeds and start them early in the year. They are a small hardy early tomato, and generally give me my first ripe tomatoes at the end of May or the first of June. They tide me over till my crop of Early Girl tomatoes begins to supply me around the 3rd or 4th week in July. This year I'm shooting for May 15th for my first tomato. I planted the Siberian seeds about 3 weeks earlier than usual this year. I hope that brings you diary newcomers up to date on my tomato doings here. -30-

Monday, January 05, 2009 9:28 PM - A short but IMPORTANT entry today. All Windstream/Alltel customers were notified today that as of May 15, 2009, Windstream will no longer be able to use the alltel.net address. What does that mean? Simply this - the "alltel" in my web site URL needs to be changed to "windstream" in any bookmarks, links, etc. that refer to any of the pages on my web site. It also means you must change the "alltel" in any email addresses you have for me to "windstream". All other parts of the URL's and email addresses remain the same as now. Example: xxxxx@alltel.net becomes xxxxx@windstream.net as of today. However the alltel.net addresses will continue to work until May 15, 2009. After that you will get a bounced email or a 404 not found when you email me or try to go to my web site. So make the change now.

I believe that in a marathon session today, I've changed all the relevant things on both my site and the NAQCC site to cover the change. -30-

Sunday, January 04, 2009 6:33 PM - I want to get caught up on a couple things in this entry that I've put off a couple days now.

First one of my goals for this year is learning to send CW left-handed as well as I do right-handed. All my QSO's so far this year with the exception of one have been made with my left hand on my homebrew straight keys. I don't think I'm doing too badly so far, and one ham I worked kindly told me he couldn't tell the difference between right and left. However I can tell, and I know I'm not there yet with the left hand, but I think I will be. I've also been practicing using my keyer and paddles left-handed with the dot and dash sides of the paddles reversed which I can do with a simple command to my keyer. I'm not to the point there yet that I'm going to use the keyer on the air though. I find some letters just a tad tricky, especially ones like L, F, X, P where there are more than one transition between dots and dashes.

I also modified my older homebrew key by putting in a better bearing for the lever. The old one wobbled a bit from side to side, this new one doesn't.

Another thing I wanted to talk about is tomatoes. On January 2nd I had my last remaining tomato from 2008 in my salad, and on the same day I planted my Siberian tomato seeds for 2009. Here's a picture of the transition.

pix_diary_20090104_01 (85K)

Saturday, January 03, 2009 9:19 AM - One thought has been nagging me about the rings of Saturn ever since I mentioned my observation the other night. I hadn't researched it until just now though because I didn't have time and didn't know if anyone else was interested in it. However I have gotten several comments about the matter, and did some research.

I had been thinking since it would be about 8 months until the exact edge-on apparition of the rings and Saturn was currently rising roughly around midnight that in August it should be very near the Sun and not easy to observe. I confirmed my suspicions a little bit ago by running my Starry Night software.

It turns out that the exact edge-on apparition occurs not in August, but a few days after August on September 4th. And as I thought, Saturn is only a few days from conjunction with the Sun at that time. So it will be very difficult to observe then as the sky will not be dark until after Saturn sets.

I also saw something on the Internet mentioning that this past late December apparition of the rings being nearly edge on would be the best edge-on apparition to observe until the year 2038. So since these edge-on apparitions occur about every 14-15 years, the next one around 2024 or so must also occur near a conjunction with the Sun.

After doing all that research now, I'm mighty glad I dragged my scope out after midnight the other night. I only wish I'd taken out my bigger scope to get a better look. I may just do that the next clear night as even though the rings are open wider now, they are still very close to edge on. Then of course during August it will be possible to again see them very close to edge on before Saturn is lost in twilight as it approaches the Sun.

Paul says yes, it was the StarGazer show with Jack Horkheimer he was referring to. Incidentally the show used to be called Star Hustler till Internet searches became popular and searches including the word 'hustler' turned up sites having to do with another subject altogether. -30-

Friday, January 02, 2009 9:11 AM - As I try to do near the first of every year, I go through every page of my web site to find and fix any dated material. Should you notice anything that is out of date, let me know. I've only done a few pages so far, and you can help me out.

My regular contributor to the diary with his comments, Paul N0NBD emails, "Hello John, I have enjoyed your information on Saturn and such. I have always been fascinated with the goings on in our night sky but I do not know very much either. I have a nephew that had a small telescope that I have used to view the skys with. I guess someday I better buy one so I can go look more often. Tonight there is a bright star/planet below the moon. I suspect it is Jupiter. I will watch the public TV channel in the morning as they run a short spot on astronomy and what to look for. My son Les and I went fishing today at Toronto Lake 40 miles west of here. It was cold this morning and the boat broke through about 1 inch of ice for 100 ft before we hit open water. I think my fish per outing is less than your worst year 2008 at .85 but I do enjoy going and spending time with my sons. I think when I was raising them they thought I was the stupidest guy in the world but at 32 and 36 they are good thinking people and I see a lot of me in them. Makes me proud! I have written half a novel again. Have a good New Year de Paul N0NBD ar sk.."

Nope, that was Venus near the Moon. I wonder if that PBS spot is the one by Jack Horkheimer? When I had TV, I used to watch his 5 minute shows which our PBS station WQED aired around midnight each night. He is also on the Internet. Look at http://www.jackstargazer.com/ for his Star Gazer shows - the same ones that air on PBS. -30-

Thursday, January 01, 2009 8:16 PM - Not much time for the first diary entry of the new year. The transitions from month to month are always extra busy days here, and the added transition from year to year just multiplies the 'busyness'. For example I spent about 3 hours this morning updating my weather records for 2008 in the computer and printing out some tables, charts, and graphs. It was fascinating work as always, but does consume the time. Now I've got a bunch of bills, bank slips, and other financial stuff laid out on the table in the other room, and I'm going to get to that and close out December and 2008 in just a few minutes now. Plus the usual everyday NAQCC work added in kind of wraps up this day. So till tomorrow it's -30-