Resoultions 2010

Well, here we are again on the eve of another new year. Many things have changed this year, but oddly many have stayed the same. As I have done for the past 4 years I am looking back at 2009 and seeing what I was able to resolve and what slide by the wayside and most likely onto the list for 2010.

As we look back at Resolutions 2009 I see what was achieved. The main resolution was to work more on my radio hobby. I guess it is somewhat strange to include a hobby in this list, but I was more oriented to contesting. I was able to work a number of contests this year, which helped me achieve 2000+ contacts an increase of nearly 10 times that of 2008.

I was able to spend more time with my son, who is now 4 years old. He is really a blast to have around and I am sure as he gets older there will be many more opportunities to work with him in numerous things he has taken an interest in. For example, my radios, the Cougar, as well as the Nintendo Wii. With any luck he will be playing soccer in 2010.

As for other family goals, my wife and I are still married and celebrated 5 years together. Thankfully, she has not killed me yet. While there is still work to do with the family, we have been able to weather many of the pitfalls that have come our way. Luckily, I am not in jeopardy of losing my house or job, so I will consider myself very lucky.

As for 2010 there are a number of items on the list. Now that I am 40 years old I need to start taking better care of myself. Luckily I have been in good health and while I have not gotten my 2009 physical, I know I need to watch what I eat and attempt (notice I said attempt) to work out. I am not so much worried about weight loss, as I am become weak and decrepit as I age. Yes, the Bowflex is right behind me as I sit here at my desk, in the garage banging away on the keyboard.

As for the wonderful world of radio, I want to increase the number of contacts I make this year from 2000 to 4000. With any luck participating and learning more on the contesting front will give me that opportunity. I was able to receive my first certificate from a contest that took place in 2009 (of course N6ML did most of the work), as I operated for a few hours. I also want to get my son more involved on the radio, maybe knock out a few more letter in CW.

I need to also turn my attention towards the house. I have the chance to work quite a bit of overtime in the first few months of the year and I want to paint the remaining rooms and possibly get some new windows installed downstairs. I also have a wild idea about converting the spare bedroom to game type room, maybe us guys know it as a “man cave.” I would like to redo the room and place the 52″ big screen up there for movie watching and the console games. But first, I must finish the bathroom. Yes, the same one I started early last year before my ACL surgery.

I also need to look at getting some type of modification on my home loan. While I am in no way close to being foreclosed on or losing my house, with the economy being what it is I would love to see something knocked off the principal and the terms of the loan changed, even if just a bit. I know many who have not had luck in this department, hopefully I can get lucky and rework my home loan. I know for a fact we will be in this house for a minimum of 5 more years.

Lastly, we must make a roadie to SoCal. I have not been back to San Diego since we were married, now just over 5 years. If not for my sanity, then for my son so he can truly experience the TRUE California, which is NOT the Bay Area. There are a wide variety of things my wife and I have planned, such as Disneyland (in Anaheim), the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, LegoLand and the Wild Animal Park, just to name a few. But after continued postponement this is something that needs to accomplished. I have finally accumulated nearly a week of vacation time after my ACL surgery last March, so with any luck February could see the Charger loaded up and ready to head south.

As for my New Years Eve, after I am done typing, I will participate in a 30 minute practice session for an upcoming contest, then shower and go to bed since work calls tomorrow, which equates to more overtime and a bigger paycheck. So let’s say good bye to 2009 and welcome in a great 2010. See you next year.

RTTY RU – 2010

The 2010 version of the ARRL’s RTTY Round Up will take place this weekend beginning at 1800z on January 2 and ending on 2400z, January 3. You can work a total of 24 hours during the contest. This was one of the contests I had dual participation in. I spent some time at N6RO, using the the call sign, N6ML working with Iain. He actually won a certificate from the ARRL for the top score in our section.

I looked over my personal score from last year and in 25 minutes I made 89 QSOs for 3,204 points. I will be looking to improve on those numbers. With any luck I should start the contest on time and run 15 and 20M before the sun goes down, maybe getting into JA for an hour after sunset at grey line or just after.

I am really not expecting much on 40/80 from the BigIR. I wish I had more faith in this vertical, but the fact is I don’t. Since raising the 5-band hex beam I have spent a majority of my time using this on 10/15/20M. I will give 40M a chance, as I will 80M. Who knows maybe stars will align and sunspots will bless us for the first major contest of 2010. Yeah, doubtful I know, but we can always hope, right?

I would enjoy to put in a “real” effort and be on the air for the full 24 hours you can work, in both a running and search and pounce format. Not sure what I would expect QSO wise, but I would think I could easily exceed 500 contacts. That would average out to 20/hr. Not great, but achievable for myself and station. Regardless I look forward to the weekend and the RTTY Round Up.

TSA = Joke

Here we go again! Is the traveling air public for more knee jerk reactions from a supposed “security agency?” The TSA still remains as nothing more than a glorified security company under the control of the US Government. Rest assured, if the government wanted to commit an act of air terrorism, it would happen. And they would let it. Increasing rules and becoming “more vigilant” won’t do shit. Where there is a will, there is a way. It is ridiculous to think the more rules imposed the less likely there is to be another terrorist attack using commercial airliners. Then again, I am off the thought it was the US Government that knew about 9-11, but that is a discussion for ATS, not T6F.

I no longer travel by air if I don’t have to. After spending 12 years at United Airlines I was getting fed up with the “added” or “heightened” security we were supposedly under. I can’t remember a time since I left the airlines, or even post 9-11 where the airlines were not at a heightened security alert. What does it matter our hourly rent-a-cops now fly mock badges and are federally trained? LOL. I’ll tell you. NOTHING! It might make you feel safer, but these people are no more better trained than they were pre 9-11. I can still remember going through a 4 hour class on how to detect explosives in an x-ray machine and supposedly I was “trained.” Again, pre 9-11.

Times have changed and as I mentioned I don’t want the hassle of the US Government telling me I can and cannot do when I pay for an airline ticket. “New rules imposed by the Transportation Security Administration limit on-board activities by passengers and crew in U.S. airspace. The airline said that during the final hour of flight passengers must remain seated. They won’t be allowed access to carry on baggage or to have any items on their laps.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement Saturday that passengers flying to the U.S. from overseas may notice extra security, but she said the measures “are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere.” That’s even better and this is supposed to help us how? I am sure there are guidelines and regulations that will continued to be followed and enforced, so this “unpredictability” is nothing more than another way to let the traveling public know their rights can be violated if there is any cause for suspicion.

How about more screening, after you are through the main checkpoint? Uh, okay. This was nothing more than an inconvenience while in the gate room, prior to boarding. What did it ever turn up? I’ll tell you what it turned up at LAX in the United terminals the years following 9-11. NOTHING! Just a stronger presence of TSA (the government version of a rent-a-cop).

I just wonder how much more tax money will be generated when they tack on another security fee in order to pay for this “presence” to make air travelers “feel safer” because in all honesty, very little has changed about the security or lack of it when it comes to US airports and airliners. Thankfully I take one flight a year, to Las Vegas. Even that can be made in an 8 hour drive, something I will seriously consider next year.

Big Gun and the RAC

Getting involved in something new is always an experience. Sometimes those first experiences are memorable and sometimes, you want to just forget it even happened. Today was one of those days, as I went back over to N6RO (that’s Radio Oakley), the local big gun station. They were continuing to call, “CQ RAC TEST”, which I found out was the Radio Amateurs of Canada Winter Contest. I did not know this before last night.

Prior to arriving I turned on the rig and tuned to 20m to see what I could hear. Being up at 1230 UTC, I was not really surprised to hear noise on 20M (and 40m). It wasn’t until the sun came up that 20m came to life and I was able to find a bit of activity working SSB.

This was really my first experience working SSB and it took a bit of concentration in order to pull out weaker signals, but I was able to make four QSOs before I headed out the door for N6RO (operating as N6ML for the RAC Winter Contest). Little did I realize how weak some signals would be that I would find myself calling “QRZ?”

After observing for some 40 minutes N6ML asked if I wanted to operate. So I took a seat began calling CQ. It did not take long at all before there were call signs coming at me left and right. I probably had 10 QSOs, but regardless of the number is the experience. I do feel like I could be a contributing contester to a multi/multi station.

Although my short time was not without a few slips of the tongue. I did confuse a few call signs, but who doesn’t, right? Also, N6ML was removed from QRZ for some unknown reason, so we had many stations asking for our QTH. N6ML then sat down next to me with pencil and paper and assisted in some of the harder signals we had to dig out of the noise.

All in all it was a very good introduction to contesting. Sure, I can say I have played radio during a contest, but this is the first time my 10 QSOs will hopefully help N6ML place in the RAC. As I left, they had totaled some 342,000 points on 850 QSOs. All that and there was still 7 hours of contesting left.

Point Blank Review: Stargate SG-1

Prior to starting in on the 10 season epic that is Stargate SG-1 courtesy of Netflix, I was a bit curious as to the 8.5 rating as seen on IMDB. I had never really put much thought into getting into this sci-fi series, but now that I am 8 seasons in, that rating no longer needs to be justified.

I made the mistake after I was 6 seasons into the series and read about the series on Wikipedia. That ruined some of the surprises that were yet comes. In fact I was trying to see where Stargate Atlantis fit into the picture, which is at the start of Stargate SG-1, season 8. Regardless of what I read, the series has been amazing!

The television series was built off the movie, Stargate, which came out in 1994 starting Kurt Russell as Colonel Jack O’Neil and James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson. In the movie, on the Giza Plateau a cover stone is found, underneath it holds what comes to be known as the “stargate.” This is a “ancient” transport device that allows travelers to gate to other worlds.

The movie while not highly popular did spawn the television series, which stars Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel Jack O’Neill, and Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson. The show also introduces Amanda Tapping as Major Samantha Carter and Christopher Judge as the Jaffa, Teal’c. The characters are very well developed, which helps you identify with them. O’Neill is a driven military leader trying to make up for a failed marriage and a family tragedy, which could have been prevented.

Samantha Carter is much her like her O’Neill, in that she is a very driven individual who is married to the military and the stargate project, which is hidden under the guise of deep space telemetry. As part of SG-1, shi is the science expert and theoretical astrophysicist. Again, like O’Neill, she has some family skeletons in her closet as well, driven by her father, Jacob, a general in the Air Force.

Carter also bonds amazing well with Dr. Daniel Jackson, a civilian archaeologist responsible for translating the ancient symbols, which allowed activation of the stargate. Prior to the series, Jackson was a failed lecturer who was no longer taken serious about his theories on the pyramids. Much like O’Neill and Carter, he too was witness to great family tragedy when his parents were killed establishing a new museum exhibit.

The only “alien” presence on the team is Teal’c who comes to SG-1 as a Jaffa, with extensive knowledge of the Goa’uld as he defected from the ranks as the First Prime to Apophis. Many of the Gou’ald know of his exploits and is considered a “Shol’va” or traitor by those he fought next to. His knowledge of the Gou’ald and System Lords plays an important role in providing timely information to SG-1 and those he now vows allegiance to. Much like the other members of SG-1 He too is wrought with tragedy in his past. He abandoned his wife and son, for their protection after wanting “freedom” from the Gou’ald and the “false Gods” as the System Lords refer to themselves.

The storyline and plot is excellent throughout the series (remember I’m on Season 8 here). Many episodes play off previous missions or story lines that were set up earlier in the show. The introduction of the System Lords and their desires to rule the universe by acting as Gods and enslaving the people on a wide variety of planets, most of which end up being human based. This goes back to the Ancients who spread their civilizations through many different worlds.

The Stargate is housed in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Wyoming and overseen by Major General George Hammond. He controls the activity of the gate, sending SG (Star gate) teams on missions to other worlds. SG-1 is the main team, thus the show centers on their missions and exploits. The shows main protagonist early on is the System Lord, Apophis, as he searches the galaxy for new Gou’ald hosts. After Teal’c defects a Jaffa Rebeillion begins, in which a small group search for their freedom from the Gou’ald.

Even after 8 seasons the show continues to fascinate and surprise even as I am now two seasons away from the end of SG-1. With all the interest generate by this show, I have started to explore the Pegasus Universe, which is home to Stargate Atlantis, which ran in parallel with SG-1 for a few years.

I have watched some good sci-fi shows in the past, Space: Above and Beyond comes to mind, but that series was short lived. The new Battlestar Galactica also comes to mind, from what I have heard from others. But Stargate SG-1 has something special that makes it an excellent sci-fi series as you explore the universe. I recommend you become a “Gater” and watch the series. It truly is an amazing series.