Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post for 2010

And that makes it 339 post for 2010 - my most prolific year since starting this.  I hope that reading this blog has been as fun and entertaining for you as it has for me.

My plans for tonight are simple - a little Straight Key Night and then watch the ball drop at Midnight.  Joey and Cara are determined to stay up and watch, and hopefully Marianne will get home from work in time to usher in 2011 with me.

Amateur Radio New Year's Resolutions for 2011 ???

1) Get on the air more

2) Get that 160 Meter vertical built in 2011

3) Get on the air more

4) Lay even MORE radials down for the Butternut (I added some this year; but would like to add more)

5) Get on the air more

6) Attend more Hamfests

7) Get on the air more

8) Do much more portable operating from the great outdoors this Spring/Summer/Fall

9) Get on the air more

10) Do more milliWatting in 2011

11) Get on the air more

I think you get the picture .....

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least

Thursday, December 30, 2010

From Winter to Spring?

Well, not exactly.  But the forecast high temperature for New Year's Day is supposed to be near 50F !!!  A long way from the blizzard of last Sunday and the 11F that I woke up to this morning.  Two small items regarding the recent snowfall that I read online:

1) The National Weather Service believes that we broke a record for snowfall amounts for a 24 hour period in New Jersey, and that's since record keeping began.

2) The barometric pressure during the severest period of the storm was equal to that found during a Category 2 hurricane.

That all said and done, I am once again looking forward to Straight Key Night tomorrow evening.  If it's like the past few years, it will be hard to find a spot to transmit on the bands.  And that really warms the cockles of my heart, as it reminds me how the bands used to be in my Novice days.  I only wish it was like that all the time!

It isn't however, as you all know; so it's best to enjoy it for the evening while it lasts.  I'll have the K2 going, of course, and I will probably be alternating between my Speed-X straight key and the Vibroplex bug - depending on how tired the wrist gets (if it even gets tired at all!).

And I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year to all of you out there.  A year from now, I hope that you may have found 2011 deserving enough to go down in your personal record books as one of the best you've ever had!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Perfect together !

My lovely wife Marianne, gifted me with an Amazon Kindle for Christmas.  I love to read; and if I have free time and I'm not on the radio, then that's probably what I am doing.

"Good for you!" you may be thinking, "But what does this have to do with Amateur Radio?"

Everything!, As I found out much to my delight!  I can e-mail copies of the K9YA Telegraph and WorldRadio Online to my Kindle; and now I can take them everywhere!  I loved WorldRadio and I love the K9YA Telegraph; but I must admit that I find it a pain to have to read them while sitting behind the computer (of which I rarely get to use anymore, sharing it with my wife and two "tweens").  Even with a laptop or netbook, it's a bit of a bother.  The Kindle makes it a pleasure!  I can now take them anywhere with me, even to "the Library".

Also, since my Kindle is WiFi compatible I can keep up with the latest blogs and such through Google.  It's not as good as having a Netbook in that regard; but it's a nice feature to have.

I have already downloaded a free sample of "Three Hundred Zeroes" the book by Dennis Blanchard.  Since this involves his QRP experiences on the Appalachian Trail, I am seriously thinking of purchasing the Kindle version.

Usual disclaimer - I don't work for Kindle or - I am just very happy with my Christmas gift (that it's electronic and gadgety has nothing to do with it!  wink, wink, nudge, nudge!).

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Final snow update

When I went out to shovel this morning; before heading off to work - (yes, to work), another 14 inches had fallen since I finished last night.  So we had a grand total of 28 inches of snow here in South Plainfield.  Roads were anywhere from clear to atrocious.  The plows didn't even touch my street until around 9:00 this morning, while I was working on the driveway and the walkway to the front door.

Surprisingly, near work, which is 20 miles further inland, the snowfall was approximately half or a little less than we got here.  This truly was a coastal storm - the farther inland you were, the less you got.  I heard on the VHF/UHF in the car that some sections of Southern New Jersey, particularly those close to the shore got really walloped, with some areas receiving close to three feet.

Hopefully, this will be THE big storm for the winter and that all the rest will be minor compared to this.  If you can believe it, AccuWeather is forecasting highs on the low 50s this coming Saturday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow update

I just finished checking into the Middlesex County Skywarn Net after my second go at shoveling.  In the last three hours, it has snowed an additional 9 inches of snow; for a total of 14 inches in South Plainfield.  Its 24 F outside with moderate sustained winds with heavier gusts.  Visibility is very poor at this time.

I'm glad I got a jump on the snow shoveling this afternoon and tonight; even though conditions outside were pretty brutal.  I won't have it quite as bad as some of my neighbors will tomorrow.

As far as work goes ...... I get there when I get there.  I'm not going to kill myself to make it exactly right on time.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


What a day after Christmas surprise!

We are in the midst of what can best be described as a full blown blizzard.  Snow is falling at the rate of several inches an hour - horizontally!  The winds are around 30 MPH, sustained and there are gusts approaching 40 MPH.  I just got in from the first round of shoveling, and so far there are 5 inches of snow on the ground.  Visibility is very poor, approaching white out at times and the wind is like a slap to the face if you're facing the wrong direction.

The snowstorm is expected to intensify within the next couple of hours and finally abate early tomorrow afternoon.  Total snowfall amounts are expected to be around 12 - 14 inches; which I guess I can believe after my little snow removal session.

I will probably head out about 8:00 PM to get more off the ground before going to bed; and then will remove the remainder tomorrow before heading in for work.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas !!!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid.  
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  
 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Memories

As I stated in my last post, Christmas Eve has always been very special.  Perhaps it has been even more special than Christmas Day itself.

My dad and my Uncle Frank owned a very small grocery store in South River, New Jersey.  It went by the name of Frank and Al's Market.  It was so small that it had only two aisles.  But it was known throughout the surrounding communities for the Polish provisions and specialties that my dad and uncle carried.  At Christmas and Easter the store was crowded; but even more so at Christmas time.  My dad and uncle produced fresh Polish kielbasa throughout the year; but the holidays were even more special.  It was not uncommon for my dad and his brother to make between 1,000 - 2,000 pounds of the tasty sausage during Christmas time.  I remember spending time at the store, stocking shelves, only to see people come as far away as Virginia just for some of Frank and Al's fresh Polska kielbasa.  In addition to the kielbasa, there were Polish cakes, candies and other specialties, such as fresh herring in cream sauce that was always popular.  It was a busy but special time of the year.

The store closed early on Christmas Eve; and when I was very young, we would head over to my grandmother's house - Babcie's house for Christmas Eve dinner - Wigilia.   All my aunts, uncles and cousins would be there; and there would be the traditional dinner of fish, pierogies and other good foods.  The Wigilia was always meatless. They had their Christmas Tree on their front porch, which was enclosed and I always marveled at the hand blown glass ornaments that I was not allowed to touch!

After dinner wound down, my family would return back home to find that Santa had already been to our house!  There were presents under the tree; and I never did figure out how Santa got them into our house without the benefit of the traditional fireplace entry - we had steam heat!

Mass was either attended at Midnight or early on the morning of Christmas Day.  We attended an ethnic Polish parish, St Mary of Ostrobrama in South River.  In fact, that's where I spent my elementary school years, being tutored by Polish nuns.  The Masses at Christmas were so crowded that if you didn't get there early, it was standing room only.  There were even a few times that the Church was so crowded that a person or two would pass out from the heat generated by all the bodies.

Christmas Day itself was a bit anti-climactic.  My mom's sister, my Aunt Irene lived next door to us and we would alternate between our two houses each year for Christmas dinner.  The day itself was quiet with my sister and I playing with the things we got from Santa.  Occasionally, an aunt, uncle and cousins would come for a visit towards the evening.

We always had the following week off from school, like kids do now.  And we always looked forward to going back to find out what Santa had left at their houses.

Living in New Jersey, there weren't many white Christmases; but they all were special in their own way.

From the W2LJ household to yours, we extend our best and warmest wishes for a Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

Wesolych Swiat !!!!!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Busy time

As all my regular readers can tell, December has been a busy month for W2LJ!  Only four posts this month.  I can't remember a recent time when I have been so distracted.

With preparing for Christmas and with work having been a real bear lately, I have not touched the radio in weeks.  I haven't even joined in on the Foxhunting fun for the past couple of weeks.  I have been coming home from work so beat that the radio has not been a pull.  To make matters worse, radio-wise, I haven't even turned on the VHF/UHF radio in the car on since Thanksgiving, preferring to listen to Christmas music instead.

Add to that, the fact that I went for my "Pre-Admission Tests" today at the hospital.  Surgery is scheduled for two weeks from tomorrow, so I had the EKG and chest X-ray done, along with six vials of blood being drawn and the obligatory talk with the anesthesiologist (thank God for spell check for that one!).  Everything seems to be a "go" at this point, the last hurdle is getting formal clearance from my personal doctor for the surgery.  This all started out as his idea - so I am sure that won't be a problem.

The weather here has been colder than normal; and windier than normal, too, it seems.  Wind chills have been in the 20s and teens for most of December.  We also might see the first snow other than flurries arrive on Sunday, the day after Christmas.

All I can say is "Thank you God" for my two kids.  Their excitement and enthusiasm has kept me going.  Christmas truly is for kids.  I have ALWAYS enjoyed the Holiday, but it is just all that more special having Joey and Cara around.

Needless to say, with tomorrow, Christmas Eve, being an off day, I am looking forward to the three day weekend.  Speaking of Christmas Eve, that day was always so special, growing up in a Polish household.  I'll go into the reasons for that tomorrow, in honor of it being Christmas Eve.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A sign of the Season

The above happened at the Nordstrom's in Seattle, Washington a few days ago.  It's entirely appropriate given the Season.  A bit tired of the PC thing, I make sure to wish all my friends and acquaintances "Merry Christmas.  That IS the holiday, after all.

Thinking that someone may be offended by "Merry Christmas" is a bit foolish in my book.  If someone were to come up to me and wish me a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Diwali, or a Happy Kwanzaa - I would not be slighted in the least.  In fact, I would turn around and wish them the same!  I doubt that anyone is really THAT sensitive to be offended upon hearing "Merry Christmas".  I think that I would really dislike if anyone felt that they had to tiptoe around me worrying that I'd be offended by everything that they say.

If I was having a bad day, should I be offended by a "Good Morning"?  Should I get teed off by a "Good Night" after an exceptionally bad commute home from work?  Again, I think it's more foolishness and false caring.  Better to worry about the big things than the small ones.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recent QSLs

I have received a couple of QSL cards within the last week (actually received one today) that are noteworthy, to me at least, anyway.

When I got home from work today, I received an SWL QSL from K6JSS for the QRP-ARCI sponsored flight if iHAB-2 back in October.  It's an impressive card with a picture taken by the on-board camera that must have been at close or near to maximum altitude, I would imagine.  The back of the card features all the "specs' of the flight.  Not bad for merely e-mailing in a listening report.  I am sure there were a few of us who probably thought, "Yeah, right" when it was mentioned back in October that SWL reports would garner a special QSL card.  QRP-ARCI came through; and with a pretty darned nice card at that!

The second two cards of note, which I received last week, were from W8BI, the official call for the Dayton Amateur Radio Association.  I had worked their club call in a couple of QRP contest just about a year ago.  It was nice to get QSLs from them and I will do my due diligence and will return the favor.  This card is also very nice with a full color shot of the building where they have their station surrounded by four impressive looking towers.  No wonder I got 599 reports!  With the aluminum that they have up in the air, I could have been transmitting into a rubber band and I still would have probably gotten at least a  559.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas is a coming ......

I saw this mentioned on the Buddipole reflector; and with Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would post this here.  It's one of the better versions I've seen - notwithstanding the little jab at QRP!  :)

It was done very well; and I really enjoyed seeing all those old Ham Radio magazine Christmas ads - especially the ones from Burghardt's.  My very first transmitter, my Drake 2-NT was a Christmas present to me from my folks - and that's where they got it from!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!