Life Priorities Over Contesting

The best laid plans…isn’t there a say about that? Heading into Friday I was thrilled to have Saturday off to participate in the first big contest of 2012, the ARRL RTTY Round up. I had hoped to put in a full 24 hour effort, unfortunately I was not able to get Sunday off from work, so my 24 hour effort was suddenly cut in half and the contest was still a day away.

The one thing nice about contesting in the world of amateur radio is, if you miss one this weekend, there is one next weekend. Sure, it might not be the same mode and RTTY is a favorite mode of mine considering all the hardware issues I have recently had, coupled with the fact the insurance claim took most of 2011 away from me and I would have felt too guilty to spend time in a contest when I had remodeling to finish.

While radio is a hobby of mine, family and friends take priority. That was the reason I spent only 46 minutes at the start of the RTTY contest participating. All but about 5 minutes was spent on 10M before moving to 15M right before I shut the radio off and hung out with a friend in need for the day. Thankfully it was wild card weekend in the NFL and we sat around drinking beer, eating pizza (or potato leek soup in my case) watching football, with a spattering of discussion over his situation.

Not sure if our time together was beneficial to him or not, I hope it was. I know there have been times in my life where I needed a friend and thankfully my buddy went above and beyond to spend time with me and discuss my situation, for that I was very thankful to know I have friends like that in my life. Sometimes just being there for others allows you to escape the current situation and just have a bit of a break from life before you must think about situation at hand. Maybe a Saturday together with pizza, beer and football was a well needed break for him.

Contesting seems to be very tough for me with a 6 year old son, my wife’s work schedule and the fact that I don’t have weekend off, when most all of the contests run. I do wish I would have been more involved in contesting when I was first licensed (1995) or even earlier when I didn’t have so many responsibilities to fulfill. While it’s not a problem, you don’t look at what you missed out on, but what is coming up. Thankfully that is a long list that runs the rest of 2012 and every subsequent year.

With any luck my schedule and priorities will allow me to participate in the winter sessions of the North American QSO Party. The CW contest is January 14, while the SSB contest is a week later on January 21. Just like last year I was not able to participate in either contest, but only have 2010 numbers to go off. With any luck I will be able to put in a full effort for both contests, but we will see what happens.

I guess this one of those instances, where you cherish the family and friends you have, forgo contesting and be thankfully for the people around you. Sometimes it might seem difficult to set aside but contesting won’t go away. The last thing you want in your life is for family and friends to do the same.

4th of July, 2011

Probably one of the more enjoyable 4th of July days I have in many years…well dating back to the early 2000 when it was spent ferrying friends to Laughlin, Nevada for a 3-day celebration. But that is in the past and today was quite enjoyable and relaxing. Sure, I had to work until 2pm, but festivities were just kicking off by the time we arrived at our friends house just down the road.

My son, Zoom (aka Zachary) was all excited to get in the pool. While he has still not officially rolled in swimming lessons, I decided to give him a few of my own. I grew up with a pool and had lessons, so I feel as if I am still a strong swimmer. Just two days ago he was in the pool and it was all we could do to get him off the steps. Today was a completely different story. We could not get him out of the pool, as he was floating around in the shallow end, just touching the pool floor with his toes. It was great to see the jubilation in his eyes and cries of happiness.

Aside from that, we spent the afternoon with our friends who are only about 5 minutes down the road. As expected they had family over, but their family KNOWS how to cook. We ate very well, as is typical and drank more than our fare share of alcohol. I only made one Michelada, but continued to down Corona until the sun went down.

Not sure why…but my wife and her friend (the hostess) and her mother and aunt sat in front of the DVD player watching X-Men. Not why this trilogy suddenly because an interest, but they were enjoying themselves, as was I. Who was I to complain?

The food, as I eluded to earlier was outstanding. Dips and appetizers, salads and side dishes to go along with the main course of pork riblettes and turkey burgers. I chowed down on two burgers and countless ribs. It was a great rub that was applied to the ribs. Maybe a bit salty, but still very tasty!

Hopefully all my friends through out the US had a wonderful (and safe) 4th of July. Still glad to have gotten off work early enough to enjoy time with family and friends and celebrate what the 4th of July stands for.

Down & Out

It’s been a rough7 day stretch as the entire family has been sick at some point. First the wife, followed by my son with an ear infection and then myself with flu like symptoms and either a migraine or sinus headache that persisted for about 4 days. Needless to say, nothing got done last week, as I spent most of my time in bed and only worked 2 days. Too bad some people don’t understand the reason for sick days.

As for the house the process has slowed. We are still waiting for the first allotment of insurance money to arrive, but in the meantime we did receive our personal property check from the insurance company. Now I see why insurance fraud could be so easy to commit. But my wife an I were honest and did not include anything that was not ruined by the water damage. My best guess is August before the house is 90-95% complete.

The world of radio has been rather slow. There is one big contest remaining at the end of this month, CQWW DX CW and then nothing I will participate in until July. My eyes are actually on the CQP, sponsored by our contest club in October. I was able to work some 150 QSOs in the 7QP, IN QSO Party and NEQP. It was a great time participate in 3 contests at once. If I were set up differently I probably could have made some QSOs in the ARI International DX.

The 2010 World Cup is now 32 days away as the world awaits the arrival of the beautiful game. Of course I cannot convince anyone at work that football even exists if it does not include a pigskin. I still believe Italia will have a great showing and hopefully raise the World Cup. Spain has taken a big hit with El Nino injured and not participating, which lessens their hopes. Germany will be strong, as always. England won’t surprise and still need a keeper and Holland could have a nice run into the final four. More on the 2010 World Cup as we get closer.

Resolutions 2009

I believe this is the third of fourth year I have posted resolutions for the upcoming year. Interesting to back in time and see what I was able to resolve and those that just did not happen. I fear looking at what I wrote for 2008 because I know I was not successful on some of them, unlike 2007.

So let’s look at Resolutions 2008 that were posted a year ago today. It seems I did carry a few over from 2007,m such as working out with the Bowflex we own. Again, I started and stopped numerous times and really did not get into any workout regime. So this remains on my list, especially after talking to my doctor when I got my physical in November. He told me the BMI was 29, which is technically 1 point away from the “obese” category. Although I don’t look obese or fat, but as I get older it will only be more difficult to keep weight off. So working out is still on the list.

I was able to keep off the carbonated drinks…soft drinks, energy drink, not beer. I probably drank more beer because of passing on sodas. This will be easy to keep. The ’68 Cougar is still on block and has not moved now for almost 3 years. Couple the time factor with the investment in order to work on the Cougar and the car remains untouched. I did do some work on it, started removing the chrome and taillights in order to trailer it to a body shop. This will really depend on any extra income I want to throw at the Cougar. As I tell my 3 year old son, “the car will be ready when you can drive.” That gives me 13 years to work on it. LOL!

Finally, one ’08 resolution I was successful at, learning CW. Sure I might be a 5 WPM operator, which is really slow when in the HF bands, but I do know all the letters, numbers and pro-signs, which means a lot to me. Hell, my son even learned two letters and he is 3 years old. He knows ‘D’ and ‘E’. I have made a number of CW contacts and worked in one CW contest. So mark this as resolved, but it will forever be a learning process in order to increase the speed.

As for Urban Terror, I retired from any form of online gaming and support. I retired Urban Radio, shoutcasting and Just Push Play. I can cite any reason, from no free time, to lack of desire to no reward from the community (outside a few die hard supports, whom I thank). Retiring from this was the best thing I did in the past 10 years. I still find it hard to believe I wasted so many years and energy on this project. There were many good times, prior to that past 18 months or so leading up to my retirement, but after that period it was no longer enjoyable. Thus, my decision. I deleted any reference to the game, all IRC channels, had someone remove all my account details. I am done, never to return.

As we are hours away from 2009 let’s look at what we can resolve. First off I want to put more time into ham radio. This has really become an enjoyable hobby, now that I have learned CW. I want to become more involved in contesting from N6RO as part of the NCCC [Northern California Contest Club]. He is the local “big gun” station in Oakley and usually has hams working many of the contests. My first opportunity comes up January 3-4 in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.

While this might not sound like a resolution, I feel it is important in my son’s growing up. The family needs to get organized, get time off and get down to my parent’s house in San Diego County (Poway). My parents are not getting any younger and have had the free time to drive up to NoCal, but the 2-day trip really ends up taking a toll on them, as well as staying in a hotel because there is not enough room in our house. So hopefully I can load up my wife and son and get to SoCal.

I also want to spend more quality time with the family. That past year, after finishing training at work my schedule was a mixed bag of start times and days off. Now I have a set schedule with set days off and actually get home when it is still light out. Things have become a bit better, being able to see my son and wife and eat dinner together. Now that my son is 3 years old, it is becoming easier to keep him entertained and interested in new hobbies. I also want to spend more time with my wife when I am off. Sure radios and the Cougar are great hobbies, but it’s not the same when you have a family who loves you and depends on you. So I resolve to be the best husband and father I can in order to foster open communication and relationship.

Outside of those resolutions I look forward to the new year. Everyone have a safe New Years Eve if you are planning on going out. Thanks for the continued support here on T6F. I look forward to 2009.

Xmas Eve ’06

Wow, this time last year there was not really a Christmas to speak of. We had no lighted tree in the living room, garnished with colored balls and ornaments. Presents were few and far between after spending the previous few weeks playing daddy to a newborn son and my wife while having the entire month of December off to help out around the hours. Now, some 12 months later many things have changed. Our son is one, we have a tree and we also have a new job.

Christmas Eve ’06 was very low keyed and laid back. It was just my wife’s family, her dad’s side who came over for spaghetti dinner. The wife is STILL on me about opening “a” present tonight. Not going to happen. She actually brought one of mine over to me and then she preceded to open my gift that she wrapped for me. LOL…at least we completed our Seinfeld DVD collection.

I was able to flip back and forth today, watching a little bit of football. My Chargers continue to roll, even when their QB is not having a stellar week. An amazing run and yet another wonderful present for the holidays. A Charger victory. Can you tell I am easily satisfied?

More family things tomorrow afternoon. I am sure the wife will be up EARLY wanting to open presents. The past few weeks, I kept saying, “I am running errands and will be home a bit late.” You know to “buy” presents for her, or so she thought. Let’s just say she is well taken care of this Christmas. Okay, so she is not getting another child, which is like the ultimate present, but she will love the gifts she got. And on the off chance she doesn’t, then we return or exchange. No feelings are hurt.

So to all my friends, enjoy your Christmas Eve, remember to put out the milk and cookies for the little, fat man in the red suit…