Thursday, January 29, 2009

CQ and WorldRadio

I was very sad to see WorldRadio cease publishing a hard copy edition. I started getting the publication back in my Novice days and it has always been my favorite. In fact, it was so much my favorite that I became a lifetime subscriber way back when. I had my lifetime subscription to WorldRadio long before I decided to become an ARRL Lifetime member and that was back in the dinosaur days!

I loved the non-glossy newspaper feel of the magazine and I loved its content. It seemed to be the right mix of news, contest info, technical stuff with a healthy dose of Ham human interest stories blended in.

The new version will be just as good, I am sure; but I can't roll it up and carry it in my back pocket anymore! Certainly can't take it to the "Library" with me for some leisurely reading, either. Well yes, I suppose I still can - but I'm not about to print out a 40 page issue every month!

But I'll tell you one place they did make good on their word .... with this business of extending my subscription to CQ. I got my February issue of CQ the other day, and I see on the mailing label that my subscription has been extended to 2012.

Technically, CQ didn't have to do anything at all. I became a lifetime subscriber to WorldRadio back in 1979 or 1980, and I have gotten more than my money's worth of that initial payment years ago. To have my CQ subscription extended for a couple of years, gratis, is icing on the cake!

Thank you, CQ ! And I hope that WorldRadio continues to be a drawing card for you for many years to come.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Tis gone

Not to belabor the personal health situation here; but ......

Mr. Kidney Stone left the building today - exactly four weeks to the day since that dreadful day of pain on New Year's Eve.

I was at work using the Port-O-John (the building that I work at is in the final stages of construction, so we still have to use these) when I felt it leave and I heard the stupid thing strike against the side of the plastic urinal. It sounded like a twig snapping!

This was much to my relief because I went for a follow up visit to the urologist yesterday; and he told me that if the pain came back like it did that first day, then the stone was probably trapped in the ureter and surgery would be required. I'm always glad when the only knives that come near my person are those used for cutting steak!

On a radio note, solder has begun melting on the 160 Meter board for the K2 ! So maybe things ARE starting to turn around from the dismal beginning to 2009 (knock wood).

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Melting solder

I've been getting on the air lately, at nights after work, only to find that 40 Meters has gone super long; and that 80 Meters has very few signals on it. A few of the QRP e-mail reflectors have had guys raving about conditions on 160 Meters.

So I've buckled down and have begun sorting out the parts on my 160 Meter board for the K2. I hope to start melting solder this coming week. It's a small project and I'm sure I'll get the board done in no time flat.

The part that gives me the willies though, is opening my perfectly operational K2 to begin messing around with its innards. Logically, I know that I've done things like this in the past with no problems. And hey, I used to repair $12,000.00 professional studio strobes down to the component level for a living for 20 years. So why the unease? No idea - just foolishness on my part, I guess.

Hopefully, given enough spare time, I should be on 160 Meters real soon. I'll keep you posted.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Luck

I went down the basement last night, to get on the air; only to find both 40 and 80 Meters totally dead. Well, I shouldn't say totally; but the signals were few, far between and definitely weak. I heard some Europeans coming through on 80 Meters, participating in some contest. I wasn't familiar with the exchange and was not much in the mood for non-substantial contest QSOs.

This afternoon, things haven't improved much. I'm hearing various nets; but not much in the realm of regular ol' ragchewin'. I called CQ and tuned around on both 20 and 40 for about 45 minutes and came away empty handed.

So, for the moment, I thought I'd share something else - not radio related. But it's definitely something you can do when the bands are pitifully dead. My dear wife gave me two books for Christmas and I finished the second last night after my lack of success on the air.

I love to read! My Mom instilled a love for reading in me and my sister early in our lives. A treat for us was to go to the library and check out a bunch of books. I don't read as much as I should; or would like. However, since last summer, I have read a series of books that I would highly recommend.

The author is James Rollins; and the books are thrillers, much in the tradition of Tom Clancy, Larry Bond and Dan Brown. The title of the books, which should be read in order are:

1) Map of Bones
2) The Black Order
3) The Judas Strain
3) The Last Oracle

The stories revolve around a central character, Grayson Pierce, who works for Sigma Command, which is part of DARPA. The Sigma Command is made up of professional scientist/soldiers and the stories involve their adventures, a la' "save the world from destruction" scenarios.

It's definitely fun, action paced reading and the books are very hard to put down. They're not involved with radio in any way; but the plots do involve science and scientific theory. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Re-joining the land of the living!

Thanks to all of you who sent private e-mails and comments with regards to my kidney stone(s). And, yes, I did go to a specialist and he told me that the CAT Scan revealed the 4mm stone in the right kidney and a 3mm stone in the left kidney. Double whammy!

I have now been pain free for the last four days. I am simultaneously drinking a ton of fluids and knocking on wood and praying to God for no recurrences of that pain attack I had New Year's Eve. For those of you who have never had to deal with these little devils, the only way I can describe the pain is as follows:

Imagine someone taking a wooden spoon and putting the business end in their hand. Then they take the handle end and press it into your side and hold it there, applying as much pressure as they possibly can. And they follow you EVERYWHERE that way. You can't get comfortable, you can't think; and all you want is something, ANYTHING to take the pain away.

The urologist and I both think I have passed the stones; and that the remaining discomfort that I was experiencing was just that my kidney was swollen from the ordeal. I have to go for a kidney-ureter-bladder X-ray on Monday just to be sure there are no blockages.

Sorry to get so personal and graphic; but remember when you were a kid; and you JUST COULDN'T WAIT to grow up? Adulthood DOES have its disadvantages.

Anyway, enough of the icky stuff. I worked through it; and am feeling about 95%. I issued some SKCC Centurion awards today and got back on the computer for the first time in about a week. I even went down to the shack and did some listening tests on the K2 with the new DSL modem.

I have heard that these little guys can be RFI generators for some people. So I turned on the K2 and listened for noise. Every time I found some, I came up here and turned off the DSL modem. Gladly, I did not find any noise that I can attribute to the DSL line or modem.

I haven't worked anyone today, so far; but hope to get on tonight and get on 40 or 80 Meters for a bit. The basement shack is especially cold with this Arctic blast that we have been experiencing. It was 0 degrees when I woke up this morning and Zero or below temps are extremely rare in NJ! However, I'll put on an extra sweater and will head down and see if I can hear any of the K3Y SKCC Special Event stations on the air.

By the way, I found a Morse Express 2004 Christmas Key waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning! It is one of the "camel back" type and it's one that I don't have. I'm hoping to wire it up tonight and have some fun!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year !!!

Geez, I hope your 2009 started off better than mine!

I spent New Year's Eve in bed, fighting off what I though was a stomach virus. The discomfort in my stomach area was considerable. However, at 4:00 PM, I was feeling much better and thought the thing had run its course. I was soon to be disappointed at 7:00 PM, when the discomfort came back worse - this time bordering on true pain.

It was localized on my right side this time; and I got to begin worrying about appendicitis. I couldn't do anything about this until my wife got home from work. And being the idiot that I am, I thought that I could tough it out until the morning.

About 12:30 AM, 30 minutes into 2009, I decided that enough was enough. I headed out to the local hospital emergency room in 15 degree weather. Fortunately, even though it was New Year's Eve, the staff wasn't too busy.

They started an IV and gave me three different kind of pain meds, which was a welcome relief. I even nodded off for a bit when the nurse brought me about a quart of this stuff that I had to drink in preparation for a CAT Scan. Contrast dye is what he called it. He mixed it in with some apple juice and it actually wasn't terrible.

5:00 AM came and I went for the CAT Scan. The doctor told me he was trying to confirm that it was appendicitis, as he was beginning to have doubts. When he placed his palm in certain areas, he thought that I'd be howling in pain; and I wasn't.

I came back from the CAT Scan and fell asleep again, on the gurney in a hallway. The next thing I new, the nurse had handed over to me about 5 of these paper cone things that have mesh at the bottom of them.

The official diagnosis? I'm in the process of passing a kidney stone. Hopefully, it will pass over the next 2 to 3 days. It's small enough where it is passable. I was sent home with some Cipro and some pain meds; and the admonition to drink plenty of water.

So starts 2009 - I sincerely hope your New Year celebration was better than mine!

73 de Larry W2LJ