PD – Week 4

Responsibility and planning. Two keys to my success have slipped the past week, to the point I am getting frustrated. While the point isn’t necessarily to lose weight, gaining control of my health is more important. I know for a fact the weight will come off. However, without the meal planning (SUS, right Julie?) I end up wandering aimlessly in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets wondering what I am going to eat for dinner.

Now, it’s been 4 weeks and by no means do I feel as if I am failing. I don’t expect perfection, I do expect consistency. Sometimes, we might have to take 2 steps back, in order to go 1 step forward. With that in mind, I need to get control of the menu planning. Sometimes I wonder, “how was I so successful when I started in 2011?” Maybe I am trying to get too creative on the meals. That’s not to say Julie’s recipes are simple…they are. I know I consistently went back Dr. John McDougall’s book, The McDougall Program, including the very simple recipes that John and his wife included.

This time around, I have been supplementing many of Julie’s recipes with other, plant based, PD friendly recipes. A key to this program is the simplicity. Remember the 1960’s Navy adage, “KISS?” Keep it simple, stupid. Why should I try to outsmart the menu or what we know as PD lifers, works? I know my way around the kitchen, and I can usually throw something together in minutes, given the plethora of ingredients I own. So why doesn’t it seem that simple?

Time. One thing many of us wish we had more of. Time is something I seem to lack once I arrive at home. Once I walk home from school with my son, it’s time to help accomplish homework. In that time, I might be working in and around the kitchen, starting dinner for him and wife or pre-cooking something I might use. This hour to 90 minutes is very important. if I don’t get anything accomplished, chances are dinner is going to be a challenge.

After my son is done, I usually commit 30 minutes to an hour to clean kennels and feed the animals (my wife breeds Bengal cats). It’s my goal to have this finish no later than 5pm, to allow me 90 minutes to cook and clean before heading upstairs to shower and hopefully relax with my wife on the nights I don’t have scouting responsibilities.

In the meantime, I am cooking dinner for both my wife and son, sometimes the same meal, others times not. Maybe I just force my son to eat whatever I cook for my wife. How many of us, I am 48 years old, growing up had to eat whatever our parents put on our plate? I am sure we all did, even had to clean our plate if we wanted to get up. I remember sitting there many times, struggling to eat ratatouille, until it was cold and my milk, was warm. Talk about nasty tasting!

This is what meal planning is so important. The Excel spreadsheet I had on my flash drive has been misplaced with links to recipes and my weekly meals planned. Not that I make this as an excuse, but doing all my shopping ahead of time and planning what meals will fall on what days, what will be eaten for other meals as leftovers really helps me organize my life and limit unnecessary time in the kitchen.

CQWW WPX Planning

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to an upcoming contest. Much like the CQWW WPX CW Contest last year I am looking forward to the 2011 contest at the end of May. In 2010 I initially I set a goal, but later revised it after the May, 2010 NCCC Meeting which mathematically made one million points possible, even from my small station.

This year, I am considering nothing less than 1 million points. Achievable? I believe it is, but unlike last year I need to spend much more time working 40/80M than working QSOs on 15/20M. I knew this going in last year, but decided not to operate the contest in this manner. Needless to say, I missed my goal by a considerable amount, butI had have fun and still took a positive experience away from WPX.

We are still 30 days out, but I have started breaking down the contest by the numbers and looking at how I will attack this 5 band contest in order to achieve my 1 million points. Until the uptick in solar numbers, 20M had been my “money band” regardless of contest. But recently I have seen 10M and 15M producing better numbers than 20M did. Unfortunately for WPX the big points are on the low bands and 40/80M are not my best bands.

While that does shed favorable light on my SteppIR BigIR, I feel the problem is more radial related than anything else. Thankfully, CW [and RTTY] is the best mode for my station to operate, so while 40/80M is challenge, I could fair okay on those bands. I will look at adding some more 60′ radials and pray the sunspot Gods shine on us.

Looking at last year’s results I was somewhat surprised with what I achieved on 40M and considering how bad solar conditions were, I would think numbers in 2011 can only improve. I would also expect my rate to increase this year. Last year I planned a 25 rate for much of the contest, but was above a 32 rate for the first 7 hours of the contest.

This year my plan will look much like 2010, the difference is making sure I have the “BIC” time this year. Hopefully I can spend the maximum amount of time on the low bands and fill in the gaps during the daylight hours. Looking at the CQWW scores from last year 1 million might be difficult considering, running either low or high power given no single operator in 6-land scored 1 million. The best was Kc6X with 870,048 as a single operator (high power).

Part of my calculations include a 0.6 value for prefixes worked. This number is quite high early on, but dramatically falls off over the course of the contest the more QSOs you make. Last year at the end of the contest my prefix value was 0.48, well off the 0.6 value I used to calculate my goals.

Remodeling is Hell

Next time you file an insurance claim, make it a big one! Make it a claim which will allow you to do as much remodeling or construction as you need. I know, this is flat out insurance fraud, but damn it my wife and I are stuck in the middle of this and are still discussing how to proceed. Thankfully, we have already received three insurance checks, one for personal property and two for repairs. Actually, I liked the idea of a friend at work to make the repairs, then take the rest of the money and walk from the mortgage. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

So here we are with this money and it’s a good amount to make the repairs to the downstairs bathroom and replace all the carpet and remove the wood floors for tile. But we decided to stretch this amount to include the kitchen. Why? Because it is old and falling apart, as the cabinets are nothing more than press board (high density fiberboard, as they call it now).

We also have a pipe (maybe two) that require repair. I have called 10, count them 10 plumbers in the Oakley, Brentwood, Antioch area. Of those, 4 did not answer, 3 said they would call me back, 1 did want to give me an estimate, 1 gave me an estimate over the phone and one stood me up on coming to see the pipe. I then got the names and numbers of two other plumbers, both of whom have yet to call me or stop by. Why the hell is a plumber so hard to come by? I guess they all have better work than repairing my pipe.

Back to the kitchen, the sum of money if budgeted wisely could stretch to include the kitchen, the catch. I would have to do a considerable amount of work, including the tear down and replacement of the cabinets. As long as I get my buddy, Greg from SoCal, I don’t see why this would be out of the question. There are no fixtures, switches or lights that need to be removed, so I am fine on electrical. The plumbing should be fine, the only area of question is the pipe feeding the sink.

So we were given an estimate yesterday from a contractor and I think we were both speechless after he ran down the itemized list. I figured it would come in a bit higher, but got of lucky, I guess. Still after going through it, asking questions and discussing our situation there is a good chance only portion of what he included will get accomplished, if not by the contractor then by myself. The only problem with that, it will take twice as long. How much is convenience actually worth?

I was shocked at the price of kitchen cabinets. The estimate I saw was nearly double what I figured. Then I checked with Lowes since that he where he went to price cabinets and I was appalled when the cabinets I asked for were not the same ones he got a quote on. Huh? So I am headed back to Lowes on Tuesday to sit down with a planner and work out our new kitchen. Rest assured it won’t come in nearly as high as the contractor’s estimate.

The end of August is my target date, not sure I am on pace to make that, but rest assured when things start to happen it will go quicker than what is happening currently.

CQP: Planning Continues

I have modified a few different routes the past week or so, now that the 2009 CQP scores have been posted and all the awards have been handed out at last week’s NCCC meeting. October is an iffy month in California and I had considered going south to Bakersfield before going north on Highway 395. That plan has been changed and instead I will spend a majority of my time north and west of of Contra Costa County.

None of the preliminary 2010 information has been posted on the CQP.org site, but depending on county activations, I could change my plan and possibly activate a county. I still like the idea of operating mobile, but I could run into some other issues. The major issue is something to ride/drive with me. I checked with the XYL and she is not keen on spending 30 hours in a truck (okay 24 hours, minus 6 in a hotel). I talked to a good friend, unfortunately he has a bad back and probably would be in more pain than anything else.

Thankfully the contest is still months away and I am still working on a route itinerary. I even went so far to e-mail W0BH, Bob harder, who is a rather die hard when it comes to operating as a mobile in a QSO part. In fact I was looking for him today on 20M during the Oklahoma QSO Party, as he hit parts of 30 counties. Never did find him. But I am looking forward to reading his response.

My other concern is my mobile antenna, the ATAS-120A. Currently it is lacking on 20/40m, but I believe that is mostly due to bonding the truck. I have been able to tune 6/10/12M. In fact there were a few good openings this Saturday afternoon, I was able to hear K4BJ and KG4YDD in Florida, as well as AY8A in Argentina. KG4YDD was able to copy “victor mobile” when I called him a few times, but I gave up so he could work other stations.

If I can get the truck bonded better and the ATAS-120A working effectively, then I will have a renewed confidence in operating mobile. I would like to add an amplifier for the CQP, but they all seem so damn high, in terms of price, which means I am running 100 watts. That could prove very difficult and challenging. While the antenna doesn’t scare me any other antenna (if I went that route) would require a tuner, which is another added cost. Hopefully solar cycle 24 continues on the upswing and we see better solar conditions come the last few months of the year.

All in all it would still be a learning experience and something unique to do. This is the first time I will have participated in the CQP so I am looking very forward to the event, regardless of how or where I operate from. I had thought about joining a big gun, like N6RO, but still being new to the world of contesting I enjoy working full contests and logging new contacts.