Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photos of Field Day and Camping

I've uploaded a bunch of photos to Flickr. To see pictures of the ARRL Field Day and of our weekend Peacock Flats campout, click here.

Just a sample here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The latest JibJab is hilarious!

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World's Oldest Blogger Passes

At 104 years old, her life, perspectives and vitality amazed me. Although I never knew her, I followed her blog and enjoyed every minute of it. I was saddened to learn of her peaceful passing on Saturday, July 12 at 108 years old. Olive Dangerfield (maiden name), was born in 1899 in Australia, and has seen a lot, but she never let it affect her charm. As the blog "facilitator" put it, she had the memory of a hard drive, able to recall conversations from 1908!

We will miss you Ollie!

Check out her blog if you can get on. Lately it has been so overloaded with readers that it can't support the load.

All About Olive

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sorry, 16GB iPhones are sold out

They ran out of 16GB iPhones within 1 hour or opening. I stood in line for a total of 3.5 hours. They ran out about 8 people in front of me. I am not dealing with it well.

Rich Utterz while standing in line for iPhone

Mobile post sent by Richfuel using Utterz. reply-count Replies. mp3

Today is OUR Sweet Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary!

Many of you probably expected me to be writing about the new iPhone 3G coming out today. I will, but by far the most important event of this day is that it marks sixteen years of our wedded journey together.

So, in honor of that, I wanted to record down for posterity the card I found to give to Emily. I wish I had crafted all the words myself, because they express my heart so well, but with a little professional help Emily, let me record what is on my heart:

Dearest Emily,

Here we are. You and me. The same two lovers who pledged our lives to each other with stars in our eyes and big dreams in our hearts. And while the years have seen some of those dreams come true, these years have also opened our eyes to the reality that marriage takes work, patience, and the kind of love that stays true, no matter what.

Here we are. You and me. Celebrating another year of loving and living and learning. Another year of working to make this life together the best it can be. And I just want you to know that I believe in us. I believe in our love, and I cherish our shared love for the Lord. I am grateful for the strength and beauty that come from sharing life's joys and weathering its storms... together.

You are my love, and when I pledged my life to you, I said forever... I still do.

Happy 16th Anniversay my love!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My First "Long Distance" Call

Many of you know I have become interested in ham radio. I spend a lot of time on frequencies that allow me to talk to anyone on these islands by radio. We have powerful repeaters here that make it especially easy. I have also used VOIP technology to speak by radio (via internet) to anyone in the world. In fact I have made a great friend in South Africa using this method (Dave, ZS4DT).

Well, what happened last night is something new.

I picked up an old Kenwood TS-130 (introduced before the computer age) and strung a 102' copper wire in the trees around my home. My friend gave me a 40 lbs. 100 watt, 20 amp power supply (doubles as a boat anchor!) and I bought a manual MFJ Antenna Tuner from the Swap & Shop for $35. I've put maybe $250 total into my HF station, including maps for the wall and a clock!

Last night I had the priceless thrill of talking with someone overseas without any intervening technology. My radio to his radio. No internet, no phone company, no wires even!

I could hear VR7SS, who was operating JE7YSS (a club callsign) from Akita, Japan. Conditions were better than average last night and he was "booming" into Hawaii, making contacts with the mainland from Oregon to Arkansas. He was using a 3 element Yagi directional antenna, at 85 feet with 1000 watts (a lot).

I, on the other hand, was just using 50 watts into a G5RV (basically a 102 foot cooper wire dipole) hanging only 20 feet up off the ground (way lower than ideal). I called out a few times, but he would acknowledge other stations instead of me. I had no idea if it was even possible for him to hear me! He was on 14.290 Mhz. On the third try, at 9:05pm, my heart leaped into my throat when I heard him say "QR Zed Delta-Alpha-Delta?" (Ham-speak for 'Who is calling me with D-A-D in their callsign?')!

Now that I had his attention, I called "Juliet Echo Seven Yankee Sierra Sierra, this is Kilo Hotel Six Delta Alpha Delta, Honolulu, Hawaii. Name here is Rich, Romeo India Charlie Hotel, Rich. You are 5/7 into Hawaii and I am proud to say you are my first HF contact outside of the Hawaiian Islands! Pleased to meet you!"

He replied "Kilo Hotel Six Delta Alpha Delta, Juliet Echo Seven Yankee Sierra Sierra You are 5/3 (5=Clearly understandable, Signal strength 3 on a scale of 1-10) into Akita, Alpha Kilo India Tango Alpha, in Northern Japan. I am honored to be chosen as your first HF contact..."

We spoke just a little. His English was excellent. He is very involved with the Boy Scouts in Japan. He has a wife and 2 young children. He has been to Hawaii 3 times, and even operated from Hawaii once. This will be his last year at his current location, and will then be moving somewhere else.

When we finished and he moved on to another radio station, I raised my hands in victory and exclaimed "YES!" and was so thrilled to have assembled an HF station that actually worked!

Right now radio propagation is generally pretty poor (sunspot cycle), but as conditions improve, I'm looking forward to talking with more people all over the world. Some of the radio veterans tell me that there is nothing like the FIRST contact, but also encouraged me that it never really gets old. They still have that same thrill when their station is recognized by another one far away.

Now I have to start a logbook (probably digital) and start tracking my contacts. This is what I got into ham radio for.

Peace, Love and Worldwide Goodwill,


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Worst is "Behind" Me

Well, I survived the (C-word). I have to say that the Kaiser staff and system are wonderful. I felt respected and never "processed" and at no time did I feel my dignity was being sacrificed in the name of medicine. Truly, the worst part is the colon cleanser and the prick of an I.V. needle.

They found two small polyps, both of which they removed. One was too small for testing, the other will be tested just in case. I don't have to go back for 5 years! That's great news.

This brings to a conclusion this adventure. I will no longer be referring to the (C-word) and it is now safe to begin reading the blog again. I was very grateful for all the honest support I got from many people who enjoyed the blog and offered words of encouragement or advice on what to expect.

Thanks to Dr. Daryl Fujiwara, Bobbi, Rose and David for making me feel comfortable, keeping me informed of the process and performing as complete professionals. Also thanks to my recovery nurse who was very kind but I was too drugged to remember her name.

This is beginning to sound like an acceptance speech for an Oscar™ or something! Can you imagine what would that statue look like?

Peace, Love and "All's Well, that (my) End's Well",


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Intestinal "Drano"

I can see why people say that the prep for the (C-word) is the worst part. I had to drink a gallon of this "product" and let it coarse through my system in a single evening. I just finished the last serving and it was none too soon.

How does it taste? It reminded me of diluted sea water kept for too long in a plastic jug. "Salty Plastic" was the flavor I experienced. I guess they ran out of Root Beer and Strawberry. The good news is I am squeaky clean inside. I think of it as house cleaning before the guests arrive!

I found that the texture was a lot like milk, and that if I kept thinking "milk", and kept the product very cold, my body would accept it faster. The instructions say it is better to just drink it outright, than to sip it. That was hard, and I found myself reluctantly sipping more than once. The instructions also said that if I failed to drink the whole gallon, I would have to repeat the attempt at another time. NO THANK YOU!