Is July really over?

With what seems to be a blink of the eye, July is history and we are into August. So here is some random thoughts in no particular order...

Amateur Radio:

I have found this odd sense of accomplishment with studying and taking tests lately. Something I though I would never enjoy or want to do again after college. When I started out in Amateur Radio several months back, I was skeptical as to how well I would like the hobby. Knowing very little about it, other then the excitement of my good friend Brian who got me interested in the hobby, I started out with a study guide and managed to get my technician license before I even had a transceiver. At the end of July, I tested and received my Extra Class rating, the highest level of Amateur operator class one can get. I really have quite enjoyed the learning process once again, and I hope it continues into other areas of life as well. I'll probably stick with my call sign for now (KD8KBU) rather then apply for a vanity call, but that may change in the future. I feel fortunate to be involved with the Fulton County Amateur Radio Club, the members are more then willing to help you with the hobby by providing guidance, years of knowledge and experience, and the occasional part you might be missing.

Since I am still trying to absorb as much knowledge from these folks as possible, I figured the best way to help was to work at getting my VE certification (Volunteer Examiner). The FCC no longer does the testing for Amateur Radio licenses, but rather leaves it up to organizations like the ARRL. The ARRL then certifies amateur radio operators to administer tests locally. The certification process is actually quite straightforward, one simply fills out an open book review of the policies and procedures for testing. I took a few hours out of my Saturday and did this yesterday. I will have it in the mail on Monday and should hopefully hear back in a few weeks. I know the pool of available VEs in the Fulton County area is dwindling as people get older and want to retire from it, so I figured this would be a good way to give back to the Amateur Radio community, which has given so much to me these past six months.

I still have yet to get my HF rig up and running. I've been trying to determine which room to setup as my HAM shack, taking into account outside wall access to run coax line through. The back computer room, which is slowly becoming our craft/hobby room, seemed the best pick. But this meant a lot of re-arranging/cleaning/purging of furniture and other items. I spent a bulk of Saturday doing just that. I hope to move my Dad's old desk into that room today and setup my radio there. The only item that remains is pulling coax through the wall and hoisting up a 40m dipole antenna. I have no idea how that is going to work yet as we have somewhat limited space for that type of thing. While the lot our house is on is pretty large, running a horizontal wire without the benefit of very large trees or a TV antenna tower may prove to be a bit challenging. Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say, so we shall see what kind of trouble I can get into with that.

Woodworking:

With the radio hobby and studies taking up most of my free time, I have been neglecting my shop. I did do a couple of small turnings a week or two ago, just some simple turned boxes (pics will be forthcoming), and then there was the radio cabinet I built as well. So I guess I have been doing a bit of woodworking as of late. Current slated plans and projects include a display cabinet for miscellaneous trinkets and bobbles I don't want to part with yet, and a stand/table for Jen's jewelry box I made a few Christmases ago. I may get started on those today, but after I hang some shelves over my computer desk.

Grade School...wait, what?:

Through Facebook, I was contacted by some of my old grade school classmates (St. Rose). It has been 25 years since we graduated and they thought a reunion would be fun. I am not one for reunions myself, mostly since I associate them with high school and teenage years. That point in time is associated with a lot of bad memories and quite honestly a person I really did not care for or want to associate with: myself. That was a whole other life and a whole different person, someone I've tried very hard to forget and leave buried. So going to these class reunions is not something I've ever felt compelled to do since that was someone else's memories. In this case, however, grade school was a bit more innocent, and being a parochial school, most of us went separate ways for high school, and even farther ways for college. So I opted to attend the reunion, dragging Jen along since she also knew quite a few of the people from her high school days. It was lot more fun then I thought it would be, even though I only attended that school for the last three years, I remembered many of the names, and even recognized a few faces. As expected, there were a few of the old cliques that immediately reformed (which I found amusing rather then annoying) almost as if no time had passed. I had a great time chatting with folks I had not seen in that span of time, so my thanks goes out to the few that were responsible for putting that together.

Life in General:

I'm still trying to put together some kind of fun trip/vacation in November. I am still gunning for a drive up the Pacific Coast highway, but we shall see. Those who know me would understand why. The trip/vacation will span a period of time overlapping Thanksgiving, so that may factor in as well. I really do enjoy a good road trip, and I also love the mountains and oceans, so a drive from San Francisco to Portland, or even to Seattle, sounds like a fun time for me and my best friend, filled with amazing scenery. Time is running out though. I am down to a little over three months to put this together.

I am also quite pleased with the switch in health care policies with my employer. The latest benefit package brings focus on wellness. This means gym/health club membership for myself and Jen, something that is ridiculously overpriced. I have been managing to work out for 30 minutes every morning before work, just simple cardio on the recumbent exercise bike we have here at home, but at least it's something. It took many years to put on this well fed exterior, and it will take some time to trim it down. That much I understand.

So I welcome August, bringing ever closer such fun events as Jens birthday and the Fulton County Fair. Hopefully, it won't be another month until I decide to update this again...