That's me. My callsign appeared in the FCC's ULS database yesterday; incorrect name spelling and all.

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Letter to the Editor 
Another letter to the editor; the link is usually good for a week or two.


They hacked this one down a bit. Perhaps my original was a little long and a tad harsh. [Link]

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I passed the amateur radio license test tonight. Once my license appears in the FCC database, I can transmit on the bands permitted by the Technician class license; which is all allocated amateur frequencies 50MHz and above which is the same as wavelengths 6M and below. Locally, a lot of action is on the two meter band which is 144-148 MHz.

I have no equipment yet, other than borrowing my dad's handheld 2M transciever. So I've been listening; it's like hanging out in IRC but not being permitted to type anything. I will likely purchase a dualband mobile transceiver to use as a base station. I am eyeing the Yaesu 7800R. Once I buy the 7800 and a power supply and antenna, I should be good to go. With the technician class license and that particular transceiver, the range will not be very far so I won't be talking to anyone in Texas or Brazil anytime soon. I will need the next license up (General) and a HF transceiver and the appropriate antenna to do that. So, once I get my call sign, I'll be on the air.

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Santa stuffed a little bicycle odometer/speedometer thingy (called a 'cycle computer' on the packaging) in my stocking a few weeks ago so now I am able to measure more accurately the distances I cover when biking. Since I was born with flat feet and I can't run very well (even in high school the smokers would beat me in the mile. I could barely do it in under 10 minutes then), so biking is how I exercise.

It turns out my standard route is 10.9 km, or about 6.5 miles, round trip. I had estimated about 5-6 miles going by the mile posts on the path and then adding in the route to the path that runs along the river and is only about a 1/2 km from my house. The terrain locally is fraught with hills and it's uphill to my house so it's a hard 10.9 too and it's steep enough that I have to walk some of it on the return trip home. Some parts of my usual ride are difficult to maintain a 20 kph speed.

Anyway, the device is called a 'cycle computer' because it also tracks your speed, distance, average speed, calories burned, tells the temperature, and a few other things. On my last ten-point niner, the computer said I burned 355 calories which doesn't seem like a lot. I think taking the terrain into account, I can add at least 75 to that. Still, though, 430 calories is only a few beers or a hot dog. I know you burn calories throughout the day doing the daily things one does and little things can help. One thing I never do is take the elevator. Four floors or less, I walk it, unless it's a situation where the elevator is the only option, or I have the kids and strollers and such with me.

In the warmer months, I try to bike at least three times a week. In the winter and early spring, I have to sneak in a ride when weather permits. Exercise is important. More Americans should do it.

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NFL Picks 
If you care, here are my picks for the games this weekend:

New England over Jacksonville (take Jax and the points on this one)
San Diego over Indianapolis

Seattle over Green Bay
Dallas over New Jersey

Of the four NFC teams left, I like none of them. Seattle would be "rootable for" except for the fact that Holmgren is waaaaay overrated. I have to root for the New Jersey Giants <shudder> to upset Dallas but I don't see it happening. I have no beef with any of the AFC teams left some hopefully an AFC team will win the Super Bowl.

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Boo Hoo 
I certainly erred when I compared Hillary's campaign to the Titanic. Hillary is human after all, and like some humans, especially those under the age of ten, she realizes that crying is an acceptable way to get what you want. However, no amount of crying would have saved the Titanic from disaster and as an aspiring president, Hillary must learn that crying rarely saves human lives or capital. Weeping and sobbing may work on the people she bussed in from Massachusetts and Maine to vote in New Hampshire, but it won't work when trying to defend this nation from enemies, domestic and foreign, and it won't work as a foreign policy tactic either. Of course, crying and tantrums will likely work when persuading some of the more feckless (Reid, Pelosi) members of Congress so she can play that card again to get her way on some issues; that is, if she's elected.

So, what did I learn?

1. I must improve my Gimping skills.
2. Never ever count a Clinton as out. It's 1992 all over again.
3. She will make the Obama campaign look like the Titanic, especially after the kiss of death he received from iceberg John Kerry.
4. On second thought, who cares who John Kerry endorses?
5. I need to stop picking on her. The more I do, the stronger she seems to get, even if that strength is built on tears.

Foreign policy doesn't work like this:

HC: "boo hoo, please don't test another missile"
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Mrs. Clinton, we must protect ourselves from evil American imperialism."
HC (weeping): "but you can hurt people with those things. It's not fair! You need to take an anti-bullying class. These focus groups have done well here in the US by turning everyone into a wimp. You should try it; it brings out your sensitive side."
MA: "No."
HC (stomping and hissing): "It's not fair, you meanie! Why won't you listen to me?"
MA: "Well, now, since you starting stomping and crying, I guess I'll change my mind. I'll cancel the missile program. Tea tomorrow? And sign me up for one of those classes, too."
HC: "Tea? sure, just don't tell Bill. He gets so jealous when I socialize with foreign men, especially those who are just as subservient to their master, like he was to me for those eight years. Between you and I, though, don't tell anyone I said that. To the American people, I call this 'experience.'"
MA: "Ok, will do, and if I get out of line again, just throw another tantrum and I'll remember my place."
HC: "Sure thing; gotta run; heading down to Texas today to throw a few hissy fits to secure the border. Later, I'll call Hu Jintao up with my sob voice and work on that trade deficit."

So it goes. Boo hoo.

The road to the White House is tough, but not half as tough as being the President.

Oh, and I don't pick on her because she's a woman. I think we, as a nation, are ready for a woman president, but she isn't the one.

And, imagine the ridicule someone like Condi Rice would face if she cried like that! Once again, Hillary knows how to play the media and she played those cards perfectly and, in turn, the voters bought it hook, line, and sinker. Either that, or the non-New Hampshire residents she bussed in really put her over the top.

I've beaten this dead horse enough. It's too early in the year to discuss this coming election. I fell into the trap.

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New Clinton Campaign Poster Unveiled 

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"Man Using GPS Drives in Front of Train" [Link]

The irony of GPS is that it may help you get somewhere, but that doesn't mean you know where you are, but someone else might. If you got somewhere without the aid of GPS, you likely know where you are. Being able to read mile markers on highways and studying maps helps greatly. Personally, I feel GPS in cars is unnecessary. Granted, there may come a day when all cars do the driving for us via some GPS controlled system. No thanks.

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I found a site that will generate a map of states you've been in. I gotta get to Vermont so I can at least get every state that is completely east of the Mississippi.

Some visits have been drive-throughs like Alabama and Connecticut and two have been airports only (Detroit and St. Louis) but since the airport is in the state, it counts. I've worked in five states - PA, NJ, OH, KY, and IN and lived in two. I'd love to buy retirement property in western PA, WV, or western MD. Maybe someday...

I love looking at these fifty united States and visiting them and enjoying the unique characteristics and people and places each state has and this uniqueness and identity we have with the states we live in truly is what makes us united.

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Section 111 
...was where my seat was in tonight's Flyers-Maple Leafs game at the W------- Center (no plugs for Banks on my blog); good seats, 13 rows back from the right-side goalie face-off circle. Flyers won 4-1 to break a losing streak.

L----- did a promotion during the game in which our entire section won a free radio-controlled toy car. Instructions were to pick it up near section 120 after the game. However, many from our section went to pick up their prize during the 3rd period and by the time I got there, which was after the game, they were out. There were about 20 or so people upset with this and the security staff blamed L----- and I do too as they should have made sure they had enough for everybody; either that or they weren't scanning tickets or marking them off as people got the cars. The center staff eventually gave us a paper to fill out our name and address and said that they will give it to the sponsor's rep. and hopefully send us our prize. It's not the item but the principle so I put my name and address down. If they indeed pass the paper along, I'd guess there is about a 20% chance I get a toy car, 50% chance I get a gas card or something else that would likely make me buy something in order to get something or some discount, and 20% I get a letter from the company. I can't say I believe anyone will get the paper we filled out so I will probably email someone on the Flyers and complain.

Otherwise, the game was fun. I hadn't been to a hockey game for a few years and almost forgot how fun the games are.

Incidentally, it's $10.25 for a 16 oz Yuengling and a hot dog. Traffic getting into the Center was a mess. There must have been something at the Spectrum too. Overall, it was a fun night out.

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Merry Christmas 
Yes, I know, Christmas is still a few days away and, in fact, it's not even winter yet. But, I've been saying 'Merry Christmas' to people and, amazingly, I haven't been beaten up, boycotted, or scolded on being intolerant. Maybe schools, businesses, and the news (it's Christmas shopping, not Holiday shopping) can try the same thing. What are they afraid of?

To be fair, I've have seen places print or say the word Christmas. Home Depot, L.L. Bean, Kay Jewelers, and Giant food stores have all said it on a TV or radio ad or printed it in a sales flier or catalog. I am sure there are more but I know it's not the majority.

Maybe there isn't a war on Christmas after all. It may be more of self-censorship by those who've been made to feel bad for who they are or where their roots are. I don't think non-Christians, at least in this country, really are waging a war on Christmas. So, that being said, enjoy your Christmas and, if you don't celebrate it, enjoy the federal holiday on December 25th, which happens to be called Christmas. Maybe it's not a religious holiday anymore, but it's still an American holiday, like it or not, and there is a reason why it is a holiday. We can practice any religion we choose. Schools and employers will allow us to take off from work or miss class in order to observe important days in our respective religion's calendars. All religions are tolerated in the U.S. but sometimes you wouldn't know it by how some entities go through great effort to avoid the term Christmas.

Speaking of holidays, I wonder what would happen if someone started printing - "school closed - Civil Rights Leader Day" instead of "school closed - "Martin Luther King Day." Why not? We've neutralized holiday's before; like President's Day, officially neutralized (effectively putting Lincoln and Washington in with Carter and LBJ) and, unofficially, Christmas is being neutralized too, mostly by people with Christian roots. "School closed - Civil Rights Leader Day" won't fly but "school closed - Winter Break" glides with ease.

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When the Boughs Break 

Thanks to Township Cooling and Icing, one of our pine trees lost a lot of weight last night. There are at least three major limbs there and maybe five to ten smaller ones; not counting sticks and minor branches. I haven't counted officially yet as I didn't want to spend too much time under the tree as there also appears (not in the picture) to be a few broken limbs high above that have yet to fall.

For perspective, that Little Tykes house measures exactly 48" at the peak. Luckily, nothing other than our neighbor's hedge was damaged. That tree usually loses a few limbs over the winter but this was by far the worst. I can't move these limbs myself. I will probably lasso them and pull them out with my truck. As for disposal, got me. It would take me all day with a chainsaw, at least.

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