Saturday, September 30, 2006

The bottom of the world!


My first week of being into ham radio (1 month ago) I made it a goal to contact someone in Antarctica. I thought it would be so cool for someone in Hawaii to contact someone in Antarctica via a walkie-talkie! Well I have been trying ever since and I have finally been successful! Bryan and I both spoke with KC4AAC at Palmer Station, Antartica at 7:15am HST.

I spoke to the communication technician there named Bede and he said it was -10 degrees celsius and there was a light snow falling and the ocean was lightly frozen (slushy). I could see the conditions there via their webcam. He said if it wasn't so far away, he'd run over and wave!

It is the end of winter there and they are heading for summer (southern hemisphere).

 He has been a part of their 16 person skeleton crew keeping the station going over the last 7 months.  He is orienting his replacement as he prepares to go home to New Zealand. He has served not only at Palmer Station, but also at McMurdo Station (virtual tour), Scott Base (history link) and the South Pole. He said Palmer Station is downright balmy when compared with the South Pole station.

Palmer Station studies the polar marine biome with research focused on the Antarctic pelagic marine ecosystem, inclusive of marine sea ice habitats, regional oceanography and terrestrial nesting site of seabird predators.

He had to get back to work (Saturday is a work day for them) but maybe we'll talk again sometime.

Peace, Love and Brrrrrrrr (-10 degrees!),


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kinda quiet lately...

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Just hasn't been much I felt driven to blog about.

What's going on this week? Well, Emily starts watching Bryce Houghtailing today. She will be his regular baby sitter weekdays for the next few years. I think she is happy to have a baby in the house again. She is a really good caregiver and I know it will be a thrill for her to watch Bryce grow to school age.

Bryan is away at camp with his class from Hanalani for the next few days. They are at Camp Mokuleia on he north shore and he could not wait to go! He was downright giddy about it, squealing randomly as we taught him to pack because he could not keep his excitement all pent up. This is the same camp he went to last year where he got to do a tree-top zip line and go ocean canoe paddling. I have no doubt he is having a great time.

Bradley is missing his brother some, but enjoys having the computer and TV to himself, and has been spending his free time writing his own comic book called "Tigerman!" (Rowr). He has 2 episodes written already.

Tonight I will be attending the Emergency Amateur Radio Club meeting for the first time. I talk to many of the members each night and just got my license when they were meeting last month. In fact, TODAY I have had my amateur radio license exactly 1 month. In that moth I have already spoken to Minnesota, Tennessee, Australia, South Africa, and have made contacts via satellite and was even able to hit the Haleakala repeater from my home and meet a Canadian ham (bacon?) from Vancouver who has been in this activity for 45 years and is completely blind.

I'm looking forward to taking a week off October 9th through 13th for my birthday. I want to go through last years leadership conference DVDs for some of my time, and I want to spend a day hiking. The rest of the time is mostly unscheduled and what is cool is that the kids will be off for the week too.

That's what's going on. Thanks for checking in!

Peace, Love and Grace,


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Primary Elections at the Capitol

I was part of the KITV crew at the capitol. My job was just data entry. I would type the results into the computer from the printouts provided by the state. It is mostly a lot of sitting around with moments of intense activity. I've done this every elections for the past 12 years.

Election results can be found here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hunting & Fishing Day

The Koko Head shooting range hosted an all day hunting and fishing day to benefit the Hawaii Food Bank. For every can collected you could get a coupon for one activity. There was casting contests, archery, .22 through .45 shooting ranges (both rifle and pistol). There was trap shooting and muzzleloading section, and even an airgun range. Because the kids were young there wasn't too much we could do in the firearms parts, so we spent most of our time at the archery range. We had a blast! and learned a lot.

Hey Em, I think I know what I would like for my birthday!

That Big Radio in the Sky

Bryan did a great job calling for the International Space Station this morning (3:50am!). He woke up right away, tracked the progress of the ISS and kept calling for it every 10 seconds:

"NA1SS, this is KH6BRY."

Unfortunately no one was available to talk with. We are going to keep trying throughout Ansari's time there, and even (more casually) after that. Someday he'll make a connection.

Friday, September 22, 2006

KITV Cappuccino Riot

This little machine has been the center of the biggest brew-ha-ha at KITV that I've seen for some time. Apparently Lion Coffee, a KITV client, asked if they could demo this fancy cappuccino machine in our lunch room. As soon as it arrived, word spread like wildfire! Everybody was hovering and cooing over the new machine.

It is actually quite sophisticated. It will make hot chocolate, hot chocolate with milk, cafe americano, cafe latte, cafe mocha, french vanilla latte, cappuccino, espresso, and more that I can't remember. I think everyone that first day had 3 cups! It was a smashing hit. The entire station was happy and buzzed! I doubt anyone slept that night.

Well that was the good news, free coffee for a few days. Now the bad news. The Sales Dept head didn't check with the GM if this would be OK. They just gave it the go ahead as a favor to their client. Turns out there is no way the station is paying for this! It is a $6000 coffee maker that needs constant maintenance and cleaning and doesn't have the ability to be coin operated. More so, the station has had a 15 year agreement with a vendor who provides and services our soda and snack machines, who also provides a humble coin operated coffee machine that just makes black coffee. From the GM's perspective, the worst thing that could happen was that we would want the new machine!

Well, that's exactly what did happen. Nearly 50 people, now hyperenergized by massive amounts of caffeine and sugar, don't want to go back to the simple cup-o-joe we have had for the last 15 years. Every corner of the station is filled with little pockets of wide eyed employees trying to figure out how we could get a machine for the station! Form a coffee hui, trade for air time, get our vendor to buy one, ... the ideas have been endless and some have been very creative. In fact there has probably been more creative energy put into how to keep this coffee machine than has gone into any of our newscasts!

Today was supposed to be the last day. We've already run out of the chocolate mix and the powdered milk mix supplied for the demo. Someone refilled the bean bin with their own beans to keep the coffee flowing. It is like prohibition is coming to KITV. Everyone is trying to get their last french vanilla cappuccino before they pull the plug on our dreams. I almost expect little home-made espresso and cappuccino machines to start a black market supply of the precious beverages. Some have likened it to throwing a hungry dog big red steak and then taking it away immediately after he smelled it.

We could learn something about marketing from those Lion Coffee guys.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Along The Way Home...

Meet my new friend Alex.

Alex was on his way home to Waipahu after dropping off a family member at the nursing home when he ran out of gas. Alex told me he ran out of gas around 1pm. I found him at 6:15pm! I was flabbergasted!

I happened to have a bottle of "Emergency Rescue Fuel" with me, which we put into his van. He crawled in and tried to start it, but after his earlier attempts to get the thing going, he had drained the battery! Fortunately he had some jumper cables so we jumped his battery and it started right up.

I went over to shake his hand and say goodbye. I had a hard time understanding everything he was saying. The freeway was loud and he had a heavy accent, but he seemed genuinely moved by the help God had brought him. There was a cross on his neck and hanging from his rear view mirror. I wonder if he was praying. When I was driving home today, I just felt like I had to stay in the right lane.

He told me he had to get to Waipahu to pick up his 4 kids. I showed him pictures of my kids. We shook hands and and said our goodbyes. He asked for a business card and I gave him one of my "Spread The Word" ones.

Maybe I'll hear from Alex again sometime. I think it is kinda ironic that he ended up in my blog titled "The Fuel Depot".


I didn't want to deal with the crowds to vote on Saturday, so went over to Honolulu Hale to vote early. Be sure you get out and vote!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The entire expanse of the human experience...itty bitty living space

I'm a bit of a space geek. Yes I loved Star Trek, I camped out for opening night of the "Empire Strikes Back". I regularly check on the progress of the Nasa Mars rovers and the Cassini mission (among others).

This week the Cassini probe was going to be in the shadow of Saturn for an unusually long time (12 hours). This allowed them to take some rather remarkable pictures toward the sun, something they can not usually do in order to protect the equipment. They found a new ring around Saturn, but what I find much more facinating in the pale blue dot. See it there? Upper right quadrant?

That is a picture of you, and me, and everyone else in the world. That dot is just a few pixels wide. On this magnified image you can just make out the "lump" of the moon. That lump represents the farthest man has ever traveled.

All my life has existed within those pixels. Everything I know, everything I've heard, every person I've met or will ever meet,...within those pixels. All of human history, from the 2006 elections back to the invention of fire,...within those pixels. Our vast libraries, containing volumes and volumes of resources, the "bottomless" internet, every noble act ever done or shameful thing hidden, is hidden within those pixels. All life as we know it, whether animal, botanical, bacterial or even viral, as far as we have been able to determine, is reserved for this dot in the expanse.

We are unique, and precious, and we should start seeing everything around us as unique and precious too.

Peace, Love and Precious Pixels,


Monday, September 18, 2006

Surf's up!

Crazy Hat Day!

This week is spirit week at Hanalani Schools, which means each day the kids will be doing something different. Today is Crazy Hat Day!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Kickin it at Starbucks!

This message was sent from Rich's Treo 650.

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.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hunter Education Class

Bry and I are spending all day at a DLNR Hunter education class. We're learning about ethics, rules, equipment and techniques for hunting in Hawaii. Just finished a class on bow hunting and muzzel loaders. The firearms section is next.

This message was sent from Rich's Treo 650.

Friday, September 15, 2006

At the Apple store

Our laptop began showing some trackpad button problems. (It's used nearly all day, everyday!) Apple replaced the whole keyboard/trackpad portion for free because it is still under warrantee! The whole experience was quick, friendly, didn't involve standing in lines and didn't cost me a penny! Awesome!

Apple is the bestest!

This message was sent from Rich's Treo 650.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Silly Musings...

I had an unusual number of stray thoughts coming home today. I didn't want them to be stray any longer so I decided to round them up and give them a home here at The Fuel Depot.

1. I am so grateful that my job doesn't involve human bodily fluids in any way. Those of you in the medical profession, I take my hat off to you (although they usually want me to take off more than my hat!).

2. Do birds ever fly just for fun?

3. If I am looking at my image in a mirror while I walk backwards, does it appear that my mirror image is walking forwards?

Feel free to comment on these or add your own silly musings. I dare you!

Peace, Love and Silliness,


Monday, September 11, 2006

Bradley's long day

Bradley had a long day today. We finally got him to the dentist and the news was not good. He has a bunch of cavities. Fortunately most were on his baby teeth and the new teeth are already forming underneath. He had to have 2 teeth removed today and one more on Monday. He is actually handling it very well.

Tonight it was Hanalani School's open house. We went to the school and saw their recent work. We are so pleased with the school and their teachers!

It is late and I want to turn in early so I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Peace, Love, and Floss daily,


My idea of a good time.

There is an adventurer inside me screaming to get out. This photo taken in Alaska just gave me another of those deep sighs I often get in the middle on a long, mundane work day. No, that's not me. That's the problem.

It's Monday. Feels like one too. I have no one to blame but myself. I fill my head with entries from Project Blue Sphere, books about cruising the world, & I try to reach the fathest ends of the earth by radio .


Back to my macaroni and cheese.

(P.S. Happy Birthday Mom!)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I bet if I cut myself, I wouldn't bleed!

Despite my best efforts, again I was unable to give blood. At least this time it didn't involve useless needle pokes! It was due to a computer problem. If you are a regular reader of this blog you'll remember that I tried to give blood about a month ago. I stubbed my toe and was poked by needles twice but they were unable to get a useful quantity of blood from me. They told me to wait 2 weeks before I try again.

Well today, their computer said that I infact gave blood and that this was too soon for me to give blood again. Because it was a Sunday, they could not call the main office so they said there was nothing they could do.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Moon over Mililani

Seen on the way to the bus on Friday morning...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Bird Squawked Back!

Just a quick update. I had fun with a bunch of other hams attempting ISS and AO-51 contacts tonight. Nothing was heard from the ISS (by anyone), but I did make my first 2 contacts via satellite tonight! I traded call signs and signal info with Ron AH6RH (a long time satellite pro) and Dan NH7QX ( a fellow Mililani ham). Hurray!

I Hit a Bird! Hooray!

After you've read that subject line you're probably thinking I'm some sick sadistic person with a grudge against flying fowl! Actually the reason I am excited is that I reached a satellite on my little walkie-talkie! AO-51 is a sophisticated amateur radio satellite in low earth orbit and it retransmits radio signals from one frequency and sends them back down on another.

My friend Hank (KH6HAK) and I stepped outside for a few minutes today to try to hit the "bird". My measley 5 watt signal on a sub-par rubber antenna had to travel 765 kilometers (or so) to get to this little satellite, which would then rebroadcast my signal back to earth over a much larger area. We stood outside and we could tell when the satellite was in-range by how the static noise "quieted". I pressed the button and gave my call sign and Hank excitedly said "I heard you!". Wow! I couldn't believe it! I gave my call sign several times hoping to raise someone else since I was now transmitting to the entire state via satellite! Although no one else came on, it was good to have the confirmation of Hank to know that I hit the bird.

Satellite contacts only last a few minutes, and soon the noise returned and the satellite was gone, but what an amazing feeling to be able to access a satellite for free from a little device in the palm of my hand.

Tonight at 8:00pm will be an even better pass of AO-51, and then at 9:00pm the International Space Station will be overhead! If I (ever) talk to the space station, you can bet you'll hear about it here!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Traffic aftermath

Wow, it is worse than I thought.

Had I taken a bus home, I would have spent 4-5 hours on the bus (Home between 9:30-10:30)! Had I decided, as one friend did, to wait it out in Honolulu, then drive home, I would not have been home until 2am!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Traffic Victory

Today a military truck hauling a rather large crane struck a pedestrian overpass and rendered the bridge unsafe! The H1 ( the main artery to West Oahu) was closed and the bridge may need to be removed. (webcams)

There are advantages to working at a news station. I heard the news early and decided to bike my way home instead of drive. Our reporters were reporting that it was the single worst traffic day in memory! No one was going anywhere. Well, I happened to have my bike at the station because I often use it for lunches or errands around work. For a while I was biking into work everyday! (but that was 2 years ago). I had a feeling being on the bike would be faster.

Boy was I right! Traffic was a complete mess! From Bishop street to Pearlridge, not a single vehicle passed me (nearly 15 miles or an hour and a half of riding!) I passed THOUSANDS of cars, trucks and busses. After a while I couldn't supress the grin on my face! It was so funny (in a sadistic, mean-spirited, selfish un-Christian kind of way). It was the best decision I made all day. I was actually with my family only a half hour later than usual. To Em's credit she DID drive down to Pearl City to pick me up, so I could avoid the grueling uphill climb from Pearl City to Mililani.

As I write this, I'm listening to the scanner and the traffic is STILL heavy in most areas. (10:30pm!) Tomorrow I ride the bus in and then hopefully drive my truck home.

Glad I still got it in me. Hope I'm not sore tomorrow!

Peace, Love and Two-Wheel Blessings,


Labor Day at the beach

The kids and I spent labor day at the New Hope Mililani "Fishing, Free-diving and Fun" day up at Camp Mokuleia on the North shore. We were expecting to have a great time fishing, but honestly everything related to fishing went badly and everything related to relaxing and playing on the beach went well.

Driving over we had a fishing pole fly out of the bed of my truck and get crushed under the tires of the cars behind us. That made Bradley especially sad because it was going to be his pole for the day. I quickly decided that we would stop by the Haleiwa Fishing Supply store to replace it, but when we arrived it was closed for the Labor Day holiday.

We had a little trouble finding parking, but eventually wedged ourselves into a spot and headed for the beach. Once there the kids played for a couple hours on the shoreline and were loving it! I think all I saw of Bryan the whole time was his back and the top of his snorkel. We they finally came up and decided that it was time to fish. There was a large group of people gathered on a rocky ledge trying to coax the Oama into biting some hooks!

As we started out to join them we discovered that the rocks were SUPER slippery. Bradley was really afraid of the waves that would wash over the ledge and he wasn't paying attention to his line. It wasn't long before Bryan and Bradley's lines were tangled up. I started to untangle them when I forgot about a little "dunking" pole that was under my left arm, and when I raised my arm it fell into the water just as a wave rushed by and it went over the ledge. Fortunately, it floats, but unfortunately it was floating with a hooked line toward some snorkelers.

I got the attention of a snorkeler, and she was bringing my pole back to me when sure enough her swimshorts got hooked and it wasn't letting go. At that point I sounded a retreat and ushered everyone to the beach. Just as well, because by the time we got everything sorted out it was time to eat.

Not very many fish were caught that day, but you can see that somebody speared a nice sized Uhu! After lunch the kids were content to go back to the beach and play, and so was I. I spent most of the time being lifeguard, but it was such a beautiful, relaxing day, I didn't mind at all.

Peace, Love and Uhus,


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Kalena's Birthday

We had a great time today at Kalena's birthday pool party! It was a big party with lots of ono food and drinks. Kalena is in Bradley's class, and Kalena's older brother Taylor is good friends with Bryan, so both our boys were invited. It was held at the Women's Wellness & Fitness Center in Waipio, a business that Kalena's mom owns an operates. The boys have been asking for more pool time so this was their chance! Bryan especially wanted to try using the mask and snorkle, and so did Bradley. They both say that they love it! It helps them both not be afraid of putting their face in the water.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

South Africa

Another long distance contact!

Bryan was with me this time as we tried to see how far away we could reach. After a lot of trying and "node-hopping" (it's like fishing), we finally got a 'bite'. We spoke with Dave from South Africa, ZS4DT. He lives in Harrismith (I spelled it wrong in the photo). It was 8:30pm our time, and since they are exactly on the other side of the world, it was 8:30am his time. Also, since he is in the southern hemisphere, he reported that it was a beautiful spring morning, whereas we are heading into fall. Aaaamazing!

Anyway, I hope to speak with him again. I caught him as his family was preparing to go to church so we couldn't talk long, but I hope to call back and see if he can talk in the morning, as WE are preparing to go to church.

Friday, September 01, 2006


The boys and I went camping a few weeks ago, and when we go camping, one of Bryan's favorite things to do is to sleep in the hammock. It is pitch black in the forest and the stars just shine their little hearts out. Where we camp there is usually a pretty brisk wind blowing through the trees, which makes the whole forest sway and creak and fills the air with the steady "white-noise" of rustling leaves. It is very very relaxing.

Well when I came home, Bryan had been repeatedly asking me to sleep in the hammock. We string up the hammocks in the back yard and it is a nice place to rest or think or just unwind. Well tonight he was all bundled up in the hammock after we finished our ham radio session and he wanted to sleep outside. All my usual excuses were invalid. It wasn't a school night, the sky was clear so Emily and I gave a tentative OK, figuring he would just wander in on his own sometime.

Well, he actually fell asleep! Em and I were both still up doing our own pastimes around 10pm when the back door slid open and in walks a dopey Bryan complaining of being itchy. His face was covered in mosquito bites! I think he fed every mosquito in the neighborhood! He said he never heard anything and was sleeping pretty soundly. Emily and I were both amused and concerned. It was funny, but we didn't want it to turn into something serious, so we gave Bry some Benedryl and I put "Sting-Ez" on his bumps. We made him promise NOT TO SCRATCH and gave him a frozen water bottle to put on the "itchees". He's fast asleep now and I think he's going to be fine!

I'm SO glad he had picture taking the day BEFORE instead of the day after!