Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Amy's Hospital Stay

Early Sunday morning, Amy woke me up and said she was having contractions and needed to go to the hospital. So, we quickly packed things up, woke up Alex, and got ready to go. Steve told us how to get to the nearest hospital. It wasn’t very far away. Amy was admitted but needed to be transferred by ambulance to the hospital in Salisbury, the closest one with a maternity department. Alex needed to eat breakfast, so, we took a trip to my favorite Ocean City breakfast spot, Laytons on 16th St, and ate breakfast. Then we drove to Salisbury, about 30 minutes away, to be with Amy again. Then, we got some bad news, Amy was going to be in the hospital for at least 48 hours. Hmm, what to do with Alex, he was already showing signs of severe boredom. After talking to my sister, who said she was going to come back down from Dover to see Amy, I decided to take Alex back to the Ocean City boardwalk so that he could have something to do. He had a ball in the arcade, riding the Ferris wheel, and eating some more ice cream. Robin had called me and said she wouldn’t be able to visit Amy after all, but, Amy’s friend Mary Beth lives in the area and stopped by after work. She was there when Alex and I returned.

Since I had just started a new job the preceding Thursday, I needed to go home so I could go to work. I spent a lot of time on the phone arranging for Alex’s care for the next two days, and also trying to figure out a way to get Amy home when she was released. Alex stayed with my mother Sunday night, and she watched him all day on Monday. Since she had a class in Frederick on Tuesday, she brought Alex to my house and spent the night. Amy’s friend Brandon didn’t have to work on Tuesday so he agreed to watch Alex for me on Tuesday while my mother was in her class. Robin visited Amy on Monday night, and was able to pick her up from the hospital. Since she was discharged early enough, Robin brought her all the way to our house. That was nice of her. When my mom got back from her class, she volunteered to cook dinner for us, that was pretty nice too. Some how, our upstairs bathroom was cleaned up a bit, but I don’t know who did it.

It has been a stressful couple of days, but it looks like things worked out ok in the end.

Weekend in Ocean City

Amy and I were planning on leaving last Friday night to go to Ocean City for the weekend. Well, as luck would have it, my second day of work lasted for about 18 hours and I didn’t get home until almost two in the morning on Saturday. Alex was so excited to go to the beach, and I wanted to spend a nice anniversary with Amy so, we woke up a few hours later, hopped in the car (Amy had already packed for us) and drove to Ocean City anyway.

Amy, Alex, I, Robin, Aaron, and my mother all met in Ocean Pines and we went to the beach for the day together. Aaron loved the ocean, he couldn’t seem to get enough of it, Alex on the other hand, was a little scared of the waves, and he really enjoyed playing on the sand though. We ate pizza and Thrashers fries on the beach for lunch. Some time later, I guess after the sunscreen had faded and we started burning a little, we went to the board walk to get the kids ice cream cones. Robin had promised Alex an ice cream cone, and that is all he could talk about. Alex would say, “Aunt Robin take me to the beach and get ice cream!” Robin also insisted on getting the kids hermit crabs, which we didn’t think Alex would like, but he surprised us.

Amy and I went out to dinner by ourselves that night, leaving Alex with my mother. As we did on our honeymoon, we went to Waterman’s crab house and ate all you can eat crabs. Amy picked and ate 18 crabs, while I ate mostly shrimp and steamed snow crab legs. What can I say, I like the easy stuff. It was a great evening for both of us.

Sunday Morning, well, that is a post!

Another New Job

Finally, I’m working again. My first few days were crazy, an e-mail server was down with a disk array failure and the backups were not all that great. To make a long story short, after trying for a couple of days to save all of their data, we had to restore the e-mail from a backup taken on August second. Even then, we had to repair the database which took about ten hours or so. I was even on the phone for a good hour or so during my trip to Ocean City on Saturday. I think I’ll like the job, it seems like the IT department here is going in the right direction, even though it is federal government work. Its also in Washington DC, so, my commute is horrid. My hours won’t seem to work out very well with the MARC train, so, I make the drive down I270 to the Shady Grove Metro station, and then take the Metro to my stop. The trip takes about an hour and a half each way. I’m glad to be working again, and Amy is glad I’m back to work too.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Anyone monitor 27.185 MHz lately?

((This is a little post to a message board making fun of people who use illegal CB radio equipment, yes, this is what happens when you have a scanner and to much time!))

I don’t know what it is about that frequency; there sure are a lot of over modulated 20 kHz wide AM signals centered on 27.185. Wow, a signal wider than the entire audio spectrum. Must be someone transmitting on gear they know nothing about, but have tried to soup up to do something that they shouldn’t. Oh, and some seem to think, the louder they shout into the microphone, the better their signal will be. News, it’s an unintelligible mess, and I’m not talking about the horrendous English.

For those of you that wish to monitor, first, cover your children’s ears. Second, a quality ground plane antenna can be built out of aluminum tubing with a vertical element measuring 103.292 inches and four radials of 103.292 inches. This antenna would be good for transmitting as well, but we aren’t talking about that right now, if we were, we’d want that vertical element to be 258.23 inches long in order to achieve an RF radiation pattern toward more toward the horizon instead of up into the sky where it may reflect off of the ionosphere and cause interference to other users of the frequency more than 155.3 miles away. Just to be on the legal side, you would want that antenna to be mounted 19 inches below the highest point of the structure it is mounted on, with the highest point of the antenna not to exceed 60 feet above ground level.

The equipment used on this frequency seems to fall in to two distinct classes, legal and illegal. Any general coverage all mode HF receiver is legal to use when receiving transmissions made on 27.185 MHz, as are some scanners than can receive frequencies in this band. Legal transceivers for the frequency 27.185 must be approved by the FCC and are not allowed to be modified. If they must be repaired for some reason, it must be performed by a certified technician. These radios tend to have much better signals than others. There seem to be many illegal transceivers in use on 27.185 MHz, what I find disturbing is that some of them use distinguished names like President Lincoln, General Grant, and even General Washington while others have more mundane names like Galaxy Saturn Turbo, Magnum S-3, or Connex 3300HP. Some transmissions appear to be so distorted that only very low quality, but high power RF amplifier could be to blame, that wouldn’t quite be legal either.

What I really want to know, is, what is up with all the echoes on 27.185 MHz? Are these people trying to hold a two way conversation, or are they just making RF for the fun of it?

You know, I was listening to 29.150 MHz the other day, a rather polite gentleman was discussing an old Collins transmitter from the 50’s that he rebuilt, the one he was using to hold the conversation at that moment. I was receiving him 5-2 on my scanner, the signal wasn’t strong, but it was coming from about 200 miles away. What made it different from what I often hear on 27.185 MHz is I could actually understand what was being said. I wonder why there is such a difference, I mean, its all radio, isn’t it?

I guess, all users of 27.185 MHz aren’t bad, in fact, I’d say the majority who use the frequency do so properly, but the few bad apples in the group, tend to bring down the group as a whole. I guess that is all I have to say about that.

Gas Prices Change (Go Up)

Ok, so, gas prices are high, we all know that, and they probably aren’t going down any time soon. What happened to me yesterday at the pump was a first. I get my gas at Costco wholesale, since I have a membership already, it pays for me to save five to ten cents per gallon on every fill up. I didn’t notice the price on the sign when I pulled into the station, really, would I skip the fill up if the price was too high? Since its Costco, I know it is the cheapest I can get. I pull up to the pump, get out of the car, and the pump had “reserved” on the display screen and didn’t respond to my card or anything. The price on the pump read $2.459. That is a hefty price for gas, but a full ten cents cheaper than the Exxon, the next closest station. After a few minutes, you could see the pump display screen downloading a new configuration, poof, the price turned to $2.479. Wow, the price changed while I was at the pump, ok, things are getting out of hand. Not that there was anything I could do about it, so, I complained to myself, pumped my gas, and got on my way.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A year full of posts, then I slack off

I haven't posted an entry yet this month. I guess, I am just trying to avoid the subject of unemployment, something that has been dominating my life for the last few months.