Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Brief Emissions of Radio-activity

I'm cleaning up/packing up my shack in anticipation of replacement.
I should have been done by now, but I'm not.
In the mean time, I only have one working antenna on HF deployed right now, a full wave 20m loop, oriented vertically with the broadside facing North/South.
And it gave me some contacts recently thanks to a few sunspots.
20m is an easy band when the ionization is there. It's the band people most associate with DX. In about a hour and a half, I got 4 different countries on 20 using Voice (USB, 100w PEP). The day before I had 7 contacts with 7 different states, both from running a frequency calling CQ, and from searching and pouncing on a couple of callers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 12, 1988

Every decision you make alters the course of your life. Some are more significant than others. What I ate for lunch today is probably insignificant, but it could be. I don't know. I can't know how significant something that trivial may be in my life. There are decisions, however, that are significant, and that I can make them knowing they are significant, that they will change me and affect me for the rest of my life.
Many of these significant decisions are choices that are constantly being made. For instance,  I choose every day to remain faithful to my wife and family. I choose to go to work, and i choose the route i take to get there. All of these choices can profoundly affect me,  and i make them knowing this. One choice i made,  i made a long time ago. It seems long ago at least, although, sometimes it seems like yesterday.
On Sunday morning, June 12, 1988, I made a choice. It is a choice I've made every day since. I chose to follow Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Christ,  promised to crush satan's head,  defeat death in resurrection,  and clothe me with His righteousness when I was baptized in His name.
It's a choice that has often sobering and dire consequences. It's a choice that is never not joy-bringing,  and peace-making. I don't fear many things others do but i am afraid for the souls of some.
Every day i choose LIFE in Jesus!
What a choice!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Friends Vs Friendly

There's a difference between your friends and people you treat in a friendly manner.
Part of it is boundary issues, you place a boundary further out from people you treat friendly than you would your friends.
Boundaries are healthy to a point, but they can be a crutch too.
If we don't set boundaries, we can compromise our character.
If we set them too far out, we can nullify the effectiveness of our character to influence others positively.
There is wisdom to learning when to treat people friendly, and when to call them your friend.
Sometimes, a little intentional placing of faith in someone you pretty sure doesn't deserve it but you do it anyway because you want to call them your friend can go a long way toward creating a better world. I think this is especially true in places where society forces us to be friendly without being friends, like work.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Habits, Their Importance and Purpose

I'm a big believer in good habits.  I don't always have them,  but I know I should. Sometimes I make habits I know are bad for me.  It starts innocent enough, "Sure I'd like Jelly Cake with my Bread Pudding!" Next thing you know, extra desserts are a habit.
And you're 50lbs over weight.
Good habits are harder to start I think because the reward is more ephemeral. There's usually some pleasurable carnal reward for bad habits. Sugar tastes good, laziness is self gratifying... you get the picture.

James 1:14 talks about some of the consequences of developing bad habits though: Desire leads to sin, sin leads to death. This makes developing good habits important, and indeed, James 1:2-4 talks about how testing our faith leads us first to steadfastness, then to completion. The contrast is between faith and desire. Test your faith, do not indulge your desires. I think that the same situations can lead to one or the other.

My plan over the next few months is to make some good habits, and through these good habits, my faith will be tested. These habits include:

physical

  • regular exercise. Jogging and weights
  • Intentionally eating differently. More protein, fewer carbs. 
  • Eating less overall.
  • Early to bed - in bed by 11pm every night
  • Early to rise - up at 5am to start the day
Spiritual

  • Regular Devo time with the family
  • Praying over my kids. I mean through physical contact. 
  • Pray alone in the mornings
  • Pray with my wife in the evenings






Monday, February 4, 2019

Ham Radio Projects

The month of February will see the end of my shack. I have declared it so.

    I'm only making room for a new shack, so I'm not giving up the hobby, just the space until a new shack is built. Before the new shack is assembled, I have a couple of things I'd like to see come to fruition. First I'd like a mobile station again. Something VHF/UHF, HF is desired, but not necessary. I'd like to spend around $300 on the whole setup, from antenna, to feedline, to radio. I know that means getting used gear unless I go the cheap from China route. Having a ham radio hobby is great fun, but the most fun is when I can use it for public service. Having a mobile station is the first thing I can do to get me back to Ham Radio Volunteer, and not solely a casual hobby operator. Second, I need to work with my wife on getting a station set up internal to the house. I'd like something portable covering HF through UHF, with some attic antennas. It will take planning, work, and effort in cramped places, but it will be worth it because it will give me a place to operate when getting outside won't be feasible, if something happens to the shack, and because of "project" number 3.
Some of my kids seem to like electronics, and a couple occasionally express interest in ham radio. As I become more active as a volunteer, I want to fold them into that aspect of the hobby, both so that we can spend time together, and so that they can learn they have a role to play in society at large. My third project is to work with my kids, to make at least one more Ham. I think it will work because my girls are wicked smart, like electronics, and every now and again they ask me about radio.
We shall see.
three projects, one involving public service, one involving stealth operations (but that's not the point) and the third involving making more radio amateurs.

Anyone got a nice mobile rig that would be good for public service use in a vehicle?

Let's see how February goes!


I almost forgot to ask!
what would you experiment with first?
1. A short helically loaded antenna for 160m?
2. Dual band (40/20) portable trapped dipole?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What's in the Way of Your Education?

Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain") said something to the effect of "I never let schooling get in the way of my education". Sound advice!
There's a tendency among some to think that the only place worth seeking an education is from an expert, but my Daddy taught me long ago that while schooling can TELL you many things, the best thing it will TEACH you is how to learn. By and large after that, you will be your own teacher.
This has been sound advice, and I hope you can take it. As a testimonial, I offer some of the following observations:

  • I frequently evaluate and critique my world view, in it, empathy plays a key role. 
  • On this idea of empathy, I find that while some people seem to be born with a lot of it, I have learned quite a bit, both by observation and by participation.
  • My Grandfather thought by and large that people got the government they wanted. If something was wrong, they wanted it that way. I think he was right.
  • Regarding the previous point, I have learned that I am always free to do the right thing.
  • This brings me to some things about "Sin":
    • Anybody can do a particular wrong thing.
    • Everybody does do wrong
    • Nothing exists that is so heinous that nobody will do it.
    • There's only black and white. Whatever you think is grey is made up of myriads of good decisions inside of bad decisions inside of good decisions, etc. It's pixelated and viewed from afar. Get near to understand it, or further away to understand yourself.
  • It's always a good time to show grace.
That's the start of my advice to anyone who would care to hear it. I hope it's good for your "education" no matter what your age.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Easily Distractible

In the teachings of "The Sermon on the Mount", a couple of things have always stuck out to me. First: The whole thing ends with the admonition to do the things written in it and not just hear them. We sing the song about wise men, foolish men, building houses, and tell each other to "build our house on the Lord Jesus Christ" but the verse has narrower application than just being like Jesus. Specifically, we are told to DO the things just mentioned in chapters 5, 6, and the previous part of 7. We can't have a life with a firmly built foundation if we don't love our enemies, if we don't control our senses, if we constantly worry about everything. This Sermon isn't meant to be known, or merely heard, it's meant to be practiced.

The second big thing that has always stuck out to me has to do with how we handle the non-believer's favorite passage of scripture: Matthew 7:1-5.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
--Matthew 7:1-5, ESV.

We're not to judge, but the focus, instead of being externally non-judgmental, is placed on becoming internally holy. We are not to condemn others, because we know what to do, and we don't do it, so start doing what Jesus has commanded, then we might understand how sin has trapped people. We all have a problem. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has that plank Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:3-5. Believers, non-believers, back-slidden and "Saint", our sinfulness has distorted our perception to the point where we are ever seeing but never perceiving. Further, our lack of discernment in our own lives can influence how others receive our message. People refuse to believe that the grace of God saves us if we never show grace. People don't accept God's love, because they don't see God's love in us. Furthermore, if we ourselves don't take care of the sin in our lives, it cheapens the Gospel in the eyes of those still caught up in the world, the pigs and the dogs.

Because we are crippled in our ability to perceive our flaws, we are susceptible to casting our pearls before swine. That's why Jesus' command to not judge is immediate followed by a command to be very judging.
6 Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

--Matthew 7:6, ESV
The Gospel is for everybody, Jesus' love is for everybody, but there is a difference I think between the believer and non-believer. The great temptation of modern Christianity is to presume that since everyone wants to be "Good Boy" that everyone's way to God is equal, and able to save. It's a common human way of thinking. In the field of computer programming, we have an expression: TIMTOWTDI. Pronounced "Tim Toady", it means "There Is More Than One Way To Do It", and it encapsulates the idea that a problem can have more than one solution. This is true when we consider things to which we can equally relate. Our reality flattens our relationships, so there becomes more than one route to along the same plane. Our relationship to God isn't like that though. There is a limited interchange between our existence and His. This is where TIMTOWTDI breaks down. There is not more than one way to get to Him because he is transcendent. We do not exist There until such time as we die, are buried, and raise again. First in baptism (Romans 6 talks about this), then in the future, when we die physically, and are given a new body in the resurrection. Finally, as we die to ourselves each day, sanctification takes us a little bit there each day.(SEEMINGLY RANDOM SIDENOTE CONNECTION: What will happen to us in the future is given greater precedence to what's happening now, what is happening now is directly related to what God did in the past, and what happened in the past was the plan all along. This is essential to my worldview)  We live for a different purpose. This is precious knowledge, and our best efforts at sharing this with others can be met with opposition because let's face it, people can be pretty horrible. Out of the same mouth comes both blesses and curses.

Sometimes it's very frustrating to deal with people who have things "Figured out man," who have deemed themselves experts in the field of religion. They quote Matthew 7:1 without hearing Matthew 7:5, much less with any consideration that they may be the pig or dog of 7:6. As we're sharing the gospel, we need to know our audience. How do they hear us? Are they dogs? Are they pigs? Many times a dog is pleasant to be around, and pigs are smart. Dogs hear without understanding, pigs eat without being filled. When you tell a dog a thing they don't understand (something like "Jesus is the only way to God"), they bark and attack: MATTHEW 7:1 YOU HIPPOCRITE! Try and give a pig real food (Jesus, after all, did say "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."John 6:53-56), and they will turn on you "ZOMBIE/VAMPIRE JESUS IS A LIE! I FOLLOW SPAGHETTI MONSTER, HE IS THE YUM!" They mock us because they have to.
Don't give them what's sacred.
Their destruction awaits them. Until them, keep the faith you show simple: ask, seek, knock for the opportunities to share faith. Pigs and dogs are easily distractible, lead them toward God's goodness. Let them find the way, and they will remember they walk on 2 legs not 4.