Sunday, September 17, 2006

We've been busy...

We have been pretty busy lately! I'm worried that I won't blog because there is too much to cover, so just incase let's LIST the recent developments:

• I had a wonderful experience at the Apple Store getting our trackpad replaced. Very efficient and professional.

• Bryan and I attended a 2 day hunter training class. It was very intensive! We were constantly moving on to the next topic. Bryan came through like a champ, despite the pace being much faster than 6th grade and being up 2 hours past his bedtime on Friday night! We learned hunting ethics, conservation, survival/first aid, bow/muzzle loading/pistol/rifle safety, went through extensive slides for wildlife identification/protected species reporting, hunting laws, gun laws, hunters code of conduct, and field dressing game (let's just say it doesn't involve changing jackets outdoors!). At the end there is a 100 question test. Bryan and I scored a 91 and 97! Now we can apply for hunting licenses, apply for firearms permits, take advanced classes (advanced bowhunting, compass & map, etc). All of that was provided free to us. We had a good time and learned a lot.

• We have been talking regularly with Dave in Harrismith, South Africa (ZS4DT). We have been enjoying getting to know him and his family. He manages a satellite TV equipment outlet in Harrismith, South Africa, takes his family to church each Sunday, and owns and sails a 20' catamaran on a lake there. I have really enjoyed talking with him each weekend, even if it is just for a little while.

• Bryan and I have gotten our NEW callsigns! We applied for vanity callsigns the week we received our original ones, and they have finally been approved. They are KH6DAD and KH6BRY. Can you guess whose is whose?

• I have been tracking the ISS and ham radio satellites a lot lately, trying to "hit more birds" and have been talking with another ham radio operator who has a passion for these as well (AH6RH, Ron). Ron told me late Friday night that he has applied for Bryan to be put on the schedule for a ham radio contact between himself and Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist.

"she will travel to the International Space Station September 18 as part of the Russian Soyuz TMA-9 "taxi mission," will attempt some Amateur Radio contacts while in space. Earlier indications from Ansari, 39, were that she had decided not to get a license and would not do any ham radio contacts. A tentative schedule calls for Ansari to speak with students at George Washington University, her alma mater, on Friday, September 22. "Anousheh wishes to talk with US-licensed school children in random QSOs," ARRL ARISS Liaison Rosalie White, K1STO, says. "She will be on the air at various times from Thursday, September 21, until Tuesday, September 26, using RS0ISS." Because of third-party traffic rules, Ansari may only speak with Amateur Radio licensees."

Bryan may be the only active licensed school aged amateur radio operator in a 2400 mile radius! (If he's not we'd like to know that too!) If he get's the contact he may have 5 minutes all to himself to speak with Ansari! The most hopeful contact time ends up being 3:50 am Saturday morning for us. No promises and there are lots of variables, but it sure is fun to think about! My new friend Ron has also lended us some equipment to allow us to increase our maximum output power from 5 watts to 35 watts! That should be more than enough to make a solid contact.

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