Another Weekend. Another Contest.

With a rather inept attempt last weekend during the ARRL International DX (CW) Contest, this weekend brings enlightened hope and excitement on the start of the North American QSO Party – RTTY. I have put the failures of last weekend behind me and get ready for what I hope will be my best showing (QSOs logged) since I have started participating in contests.

I have given up the IC-718 for the FT-1000MP, which should be noticeable advantage on my end, especially when it comes to receiving signals. For the first time I will have the opportunity to use filters. Recall I spoke of that a few weeks back in What I Learned: Part 1 . Of course it would be wonderful to have a better antenna setup or more room to run longer radials. But in the hobby of ham radio you make use of what you do have instead of what you wished you had.

After three days of connecting cables and configuring the FT-1000MP and the RIGblaster Pro I believe I am ready for a good showing. By “good” I don’t mean I will be winning any contests, but rather logging more contacts than in previous contests. RTTY seems to be my best contest mode when it comes to operating. One problem I still have, which I only realized this morning (wondering why I didn’t correct it last night) is a power output issue.

The funny thing is I made a QSO with WA1NVV a few days ago and was driving the rig with approximately 75 watts and no movement on the ALC meter. This morning I was not able to put out more than 25 watts without an increase on the ALC meter. I only had a few minutes to try and resolve the issue, which I was not able to do. I will do my best to give it another shot before I start active participation when I get home from work.

In the meantime, I might try to make a few contacts remotely from work using Real VNC to connect to the computer running Win-Test. I do believe I have all the “gremlins” worked out of Win-Test and all the pieces that make up my display are ready to be put to the test, literally! Hopefully my son and I will be able to “play radio” for 3-4 hours today. Like some of the other contests, this is a short 12-hour run to the finish. The contest begins at 18z (10PST) and ends at 06z (22PST).


Ever known one of those individuals you could group into that small class of people known as a “sonuvabitch?” Maybe it is a co-worker, manager, someone driving down the highway or even a friend. Well I have the the fortunate opportunity to know one of these individuals and at times can make things I am trying to accomplish very difficult.

While the intentions of this sonuvabitch are probably good, the way delivery and follow up leave much to be desired. Another characteristic of this individual is the nature in which situation as are controlled. Wait. That doesn’t do the situation justice. “Micro managed” is not overstating the fact this individual has when a situation arises and must be resolved.

It’s a very difficult relationship at times. When everything in life is going well the relationship can be enjoyable…at times. But when the tables turn, look out. That is when this mild mannered individual becomes an out of control pompous, arrogant sonuvabitch. It’s not only the actions everyone sees, but how communication is directed and controlled. Instead of talking to you, this person is talking down to you. At times it goes so far as to ordering you.

I am sure we all have someone like this in our lives. Like it or not we must deal with this individuals with “kid gloves” not only during the rough times, but during the good times as well. While I have no resolution to the situation, we must do what we can within our control to manage this relationship and remain “calm, cool and collected.”

Sick Days: An Excuse to Take Time Off?

I was talking to a buddy the other day as we were relating our work experience, current and past and we got discussing the topic of sick days. Now, at all the jobs I have been at, you accrue “sick time” as you work. It may only be a few hours a month, but this paid time off is for calling in sick when you are sick and possibly other reasons.

While at United Airlines I spent nearly 12 years without ever taking a sick day. What did I get for it? Not a God damn thing! Nothing. Zilch! Compare that with my current employer and I will be able to take 50% of my accumulated time in pay when I retire. That’s cool! My friend started telling me about his recent experience using sick time.

He related a story to me about his union steward talking to him “off the record” regarding his attendance. Fair enough, I guess. Obviously, the union being on his side did not want to see any action taken on his suggested “pattern” of calling in sick, if indeed that was a pattern.

This got me thinking…if a company is going to bitch and complain about an employee taking sick time and come up with some bullshit excuse of making it habit forming or trying to connect dots that are not there into a pattern, then why provide employees with sick time at all?

Last Wednesday about 3pm I called to take two sick days as pe the doctor’s instructions after my right knee collapsed and I fell down some stairs. He provided me medication, as well as a doctor’s note, but last time I checked this was not school and regardless of the note the sick day would be filed as missed time from work.

I’ll admit I was a very good employee in terms of attendance when I was at United. Not sure why, maybe it was the last thing the airline had not taken away from me. I could also claim I was on time with a perfect attendance record.

Since hiring on at my current job I admit I have missed some days of work because of calling in sick. Based on my opinion and comparing the situation with my buddy I see no pattern in what I have done. Having a family, where both my wife and I work and daycare is sometimes not available I have called in because my wife could not change her schedule. Sick? No. But am I abusing the sick leave I have accrued?

I guess the answer to that depends on who is answering it. This is time I earned, as well as my friend did. So why does he get called out on his attendance being problematic? He is a great worker, works hard and will go out of his way to help others. Yet some in management have nothing better to do and too much free time on their hands to go and fuck with good people.

Regardless of the reason, no letters will be drawn up or charges levied against his sick calls or mine. But the fact remains that good people are hard to find these days, yet with cuts, furloughs and layoffs I guess some in management are trying to throw some workers in front of the bus in order to possibly save their job.

Sick time, I earned it. I will decided if I use it and when.