Sorry USA

Why some will view it as anti-American, I am not a fan of U.S. Men’s Soccer. Overall they do not have (or had in the past) a team that can compete on an international stage, regardless of the manager. The bottom line, their players who don the red, white and blue are not experienced, nor do many of them be quality minutes in top flight football. I don’t believe starting a full season in the MLS really counts, as the competition is no better than a lower division in countries such as England, Spain or Brazil.

Last night I watch Brazil play out an easy 4-1 victory over the USA in Washington DC. While I missed the first half, I was not at all impressed with their play after watching 45 minutes. They were resilient and did not give up. Some will say they were unlucky and could have been rewarded with another goal or two. Conversely Brazil missed out on a few easy goals as well. The USA should not be hoping luck will get them to World Cup 2014.

Outside Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Carlos Bocanegro (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Chievo), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) and Tim Howard (Everton), the team is light on quality footballers applying their trade in top leagues abroad. Unfortunately starting in the MLS doesn’t provide the level of talent many of these players will experience on the international stage. Given many of the elder statesmen, like Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegro  and Tim Howard, who constitute the bulk of international experience will probably not play after the 2014 World Cup.

It would surprise me if the USA missed out on qualifying for the World Cup in 2014. I do like Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm, a manager with years of experience, with that international flair that had been missing on US teams for many years. Chalk that up to  the national team staying domestic with names like Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena and most recently Bob Bradley. I wish Klinsmann all the luck in the world, but unless he can make something out of this team, the clock is already ticking.

Baked Falafel

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups chickpeas
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the onion and cilantro. Add all ingredients except the cilantro and parsley into a food processor until mixed. Transfer mix to a bowl and add the cilantro and parsley. Roll mixture into 1 1/2″ balls or 2″ patties about 1/2″ think. Place onto baking pan covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 12 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).

Serve in pita pockets, with hummus, tahini sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and/or cucumber.

Serving Size: 16-20 balls/patties (depending on size)

Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 61
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 147 mg
Potassium: 91 mg
Total Carbs: 11 mg
Protein: 2 g

Notes: I have changed this recipe a few times now, using the link below as the base. I have used a small onion and I have used dried, minced onion. The difference being when I added the small, chopped onion to the food processor it did require more whole wheat flour since there was a fair amount of liquid in the onion.

I have also soaked and cooked dry chickpeas and used canned, both yield similar results. I prefer the cooking my own chickpeas, to reduce the sodium level, even after I rinse and drained the canned chickpeas. This does some advance planning, I usually soak the chickpeas for 6-8 hours and then boil them for about 75-90 minutes.

Source: Chow Vegan

Post Mortem: WPX

Looking over the 3830 submitted scores, there could be quite a few scoring records shattered during WPX this past weekend. While I didn’t set any record worth noting, I did set personal records for the number of hours I worked in a contest (32 hours) and the number of contacts (703). Overall I had a great time, but still have much to learn and experience. Interesting to read a few comments in support of RBN or the Reverse Beacon Network. Personally, I haven’t used it during a contest, but have sent a ‘CQ TEST’ at various times to see where was signal was being heard. Couple this with spotting capability using DX clusters and technology seems to be setting the pace when it comes to “assistance” during a contest.

Personally, I am not sure where I fall when it comes to assisted versus non-assisted. When I first bought a HF radio and I wanted to run assisted to help me find contacts. When I acquired my first amplifier I wanted to run high power so I could be heard. Now, three years later I find myself entering contests running low power and unassisted. Unlike many of my elders I don’t remember the days of ham radio gone by where logging meant writing each contest QSO down. Logging checking was going through the log in search of dupes (duplicate calls) before mailing your results in. These days software and e-mail make results nearly instantaneous!

There seems to be a lure, for me, in running low power and unassisted. First I don’t end up chasing spots on the band map. Many times in the past this has been erroneous information passed on in the form of an incorrect or incomplete call sign. Other times I arrive at the frequency of the spot and there is a massive pile up, one that I am not a willing participate in running low power. This combination also provides me the best chance at achieving an award, even if it’s only for the 6th call district.

Contesting for me is more about setting and achieving my personal goals and improving my operating skills. Now that I have seen how I did this past weekend compared to 2010 I will look at further my score next year when WPX rolls around. First and foremost, as I wrote about yesterday building confidence in Morse code and copying to allow myself the opportunity to run a frequency as opposed to searching and pouncing for 32 hours. This is the key to increasing the number of contacts I make and will lead to an improved score.

I am still sifting through the call signs, entering them into my logbook and uploading to eQSL and Logbook of the World. Some quick numbers I worked 68 countries and 41 states. No real surprise that 53.6% of my contacts were from North American, but surprisingly 24.9 came from Europe, while Asia was 11.8%. Out of my 703 contacts I worked NR6O and KH6LC on 5 bands and HK1NA, JE1ZWT, KC7V, KL7RA, KY0W, NR4M AND VE7UF on 4 bands.

2012 CQ World Wide WPX CW

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: May 26-27, 2010
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

BAND/QSO/PFX
80 / 14 / 3
40 / 123 / 43
20 / 233 / 135
15 / 316 / 177
10 / 14 / 8
TOTAL: 700 QSO / 366 PFX
SCORE: 556,686 (TIME ON: 32 H 03 Mn)

SOAPBOX: Wow, what fun! Third time in the past 4 years I have had a chance to participate in this contest and it’s one of my favorites. Unfortunately I missed out last year but looked to make up for it this year and I feel as I gave it a very strong effort. Yet at the end of the contest there are positives to take away and negatives that need to be addressed. This was also the first time I was given the opportunity (by the XYL) to give it a full 36 hour effort.

I had some good success to build off from 2010. I put in nearly 25 hours and just eclipsed 500 QSOs. My goal that year, much like this year was to score 1 million points. K6MM made it look easy in his slideshow presentation! As I am finding out, it’s a bit more difficult than what numbers on a spreadsheet say. The goals I set for 2012 were 800 QSOs, 1700 QSO pts, 368 PFXs, which would give me a chance at scoring 1 million points. Now that I am looking over my spreadsheet the math doesn’t quite add up. My point being, the numbers were juggled by band and QSO location to give me a baseline on which to start. I also used the .OBF file from my 2010 contest to give me my target projections per hour.

One of the negatives was I planned too high for contacts on 40/80M. I had a goal of 450 contacts on those bands, 125 of them being 6 point contacts on 80M. In the end I scored on a total on 14 contacts on that band. For me, 40M wasn’t much better. While I did make 123 contacts it was nowhere near enough points to give me a realistic shot at 1 million points and I knew this early in the contest, which caused me to rethink my goals during my first break.

In fact, things were looking good as I took a 60 minute break for dinner about 01z. I already had 510 logged in just over 13 hours. My hopes were still alive as the sunset waiting for the low bands to open. Even when they did open, I found myself on 20M up until 08z working EU. That was a surprise. 40M was okay in some regards, although I did expect a much better showing, as this was the first time I had put the refurbished SteppIR BigIR to the test. As for 80M, it was miserable, so instead of working straight through the first 12 hours I knocked off at 09z, but overslept by 1 hour and didn’t get back in the shack until 13z.

I started Saturday morning with some QSOs on 40M, but moved to 20M because 15M took over and became my money band for the next 10 hours. In that time I did work a few contacts on 10M, at the top of each hour for about 10 minutes and went to 20M at the bottom of the hour. Some good morning numbers gave me false hope that I could still challenge for 1 million points, but after breaking at 02z I was met with frustration.

The second night was not what the first night was. I sat in the shack struggling for nearly 4 hours before it I decided to call it a night just after 06z. Looking back, I might have taken a break earlier in order to rise on Sunday to start on 40/80M at 10z or earlier. I put together my best run on 40M at 12z, which did help to recover some of those lost points, but it was not nearly enough. My last shot was to see a repeat performance of the activity on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. All I needed was a 25 rate to help me hit my goal of 800 QSOs.

Unfortunately conditions deteriorated as the SSN decreased to 71 (from 86 the day before) and there was a minor disruption on the sun. There also seemed to be a lack of stations on the bands. Now I could account for this by saying all my QSOs were S&P and none were made running a frequency (more on that shortly). I would spin through the CW portion of a band and find I had already had a QSO with a majority of the stations, so even making a run for 800 was going to be difficult.

As Sunday worn on I had kissed 1 million goodbye for the second year and made a push for 500,000 points and a bit later in the day challenged myself to make 700 QSOs. I was able to accomplish both of these goals about with less that 50 minutes remaining in WPX. At that point I powered off the shack, grabbed an 801 and relaxed.

The final tally is my best attempt in any contest to date. Given I sat around for 32 hours, it stands to reason this is the largest QSO count I have put together. My XYL made the comment, “gosh honey 700 contacts doesn’t seem like a lot in 32 hours.” *sigh* She has a very valid point. As previously mentioned I made all my QSOs in S&P mode. I still hesitate to attempt to run a frequency as my CW is still a bit weak. I can copy fairly well, but don’t want to struggle sending ‘?’ or ‘AGN’ with every operator that calls me. I figure that would only put more pressure on me to get it right the first time. Guess it calls for more practice as well. Instead I sit back and listen to the call and exchange once and then make my call. This drastically decreases my rate.

I participated in this contest as a single operator, unassisted, low power, all bands. Looking at the past 2 years of results, I feel this would give me the best chance at challenging myself and the field for some wallpaper. While I came up short on my goals I do feel the final score will be one of the best in the 6th call district in that category. Even though I didn’t meet my original goals I am still very pleased with how I finished. I’ll look forward to the 2013 event and hopefully furthered my CW and make changes to get my 1 million points.

WPX: Final Stretch Update

I feel like I am sitting in traffic and not going nowhere quick. That is how I compare the past 5 hours I have operated in the CQWW WPX CW Contest. This time yesterday I was putting up some good numbers, but the sun, being unpredictable has thrown a wrench into my plans.

While my time should be better spent in front of the radio, which is where I am currently sitting I have modified my goals a few times since yesterday. Hell, a few times since this morning for that matter. I am hoping to break 500,000 points as a final score. Currently I am just over 465,000 points. Typically I would say this would be a snap to get with the scoring being weighed in my favor. Unfortunately the solar conditions have taken a turn for the worst and I have one band to work, that’s 15M.

I continue to spin my dial and listen to stations I have already worked and logged. Right now I am making contact with maybe 10 stations an hour. Talking about dreadful! Still it beats being at work. Maybe things will pick up as the afternoon rolls on. Although I expect I will have a challenging time with these last 35,000 points I am chasing. I will provide a complete synopsis at the conclusion of the contest.