Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's a Boy

Baby boy Aidan Joseph, seven pounds and fifteen ounces. Born at 1:49PM on Sunday, October 30, 2005.

Here Comes Baby!

We are at the hospital again, and this time we are pretty sure baby will be born. I'm hoping today and not tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Passed Element One

I passed my FCC Element One Morse Code Test yesterday. I can now operate on small portions of the HF amateur radio bands. Specifically 3675-3725 kHz, 7100-1750 kHz, 21,100-21,200 kHz in CW mode (Morse Code), 28,100-28,300 kHz in CW, RTTY, and data modes, and 28,300-28,500 kHz in CW and SSB voice modes. This is a big step for me; I wanted to do this back in 1993, when I got my no code Technician license that allowed me to operate on all amateur bands over 50 MHz. The difference is, without getting two technical, frequencies below 50 MHz are more suited to world wide communications.

Now, I need to get a radio that can use those frequencies. I’m not sure when this will happen, hopefully, before they discontinue the one I want to get. There is also studying for the element three exam for the General license, which will greatly expand my operating privileges on HF, and really make good use of that new radio I want to get. It shouldn’t be too hard, I took the element three on a whim without studying at all and missed passing by one question. I think I could refresh my memory by taking some practice tests online. It should be fun.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Been Busy Learning Morse Code

Not to many blog updates lately. I’ve spent a lot of spare time working on Morse code. I’m doing pretty well, I can copy most everything sent at ten words per minute. The speed is actually fifteen words per minute with the characters spaced at ten words per minute. It is supposed to make it easier to learn the code at higher speed. I should be able to take the FCC Amateur Radio Element One exam pretty soon. My first opportunity will be Tuesday evening at six o’clock. It all depends on when baby is born though. Right before the test, I will play some practice code at five words per minute; this should help me get used to the slower speed of the test. Hopefully, that will be the last time I ever have to use five words per minute.

The best part is, as soon as I pass the test, I can operate on some small portions of the amateur radio HF bands. Most of the bands that work well for long distance communications I’ll only be able to use CW mode which uses Morse Code. Too bad I don’t yet have a radio or antenna to operate on the HF bands yet. I’m hoping to be able to get the Yaesu FT-847 amateur transceiver. Although it isn’t the best performing HF radio around, but it also includes the six and two meter VHF bands and the seventy centimeter UHF band, areas where I also want to operate. The radio is the easy part, the tough part will be the antenna!


Monday, October 17, 2005

Ravens, not in HD?

Having recently obtained the HD service from Adelphia to go with our HDTV, I was excited to watch my first Baltimore Ravens football game in wide screen HD format. For some reason, the game wasn’t broadcast in HD, at least channel 9 wasn’t broadcasting it in HD. When the game was over and they switched to the New England at Denver game, suddenly, it was in HD. I don’t know what was wrong, but I was sure disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the Raven’s win in high definition.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Happy Birthday Amy

We have a few more hours for baby to be born today too!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Drove to the Wrong State

How many people can say they were heading for a particular State, but drove do a different State instead? That is what happened to me last night. I wanted to pick up a power ball ticket, and I forgot all about it while I was in Washington DC earlier in the day. So, after dinner, Amy, Alex, and I all hopped in van and headed for West Virginia. Now I thought taking US 340 west took you right into West Virginia once you crossed the Potomac River. So, once I crossed the bridge, I stopped at a gas station, went in to buy a power ball ticket, and they kindly informed me that I was in Virginia, not West Virginia. The good news was; West Virginia was only a couple of miles away.

National Air and Space Museum

We took Alex to the National Air and Space Museum on Saturday. He was really looking forward to seeing Air Planes, Rockets, Space Ships, and Helicopters. He sure seemed to enjoy the Museum, probably the one Museum that Alex can really appreciate at his age. Of course, his level of interest seemed to fade in and out, but for the most part, he enjoyed himself.

It seemed that one of his favorite galleries was the aircraft carrier exhibit. He got his picture taken in front of an A4.

While he wasn’t too interested in the planetary exploration gallery, he seemed to like the Mars Rover.

While Alex isn’t in the picture, I tried to explain to him the significance of Space Ship One. I think he thought it was an airplane. Of course, some of the airplanes look a little more like space ships, like the X-15, a supersonic stubby winged jet.

In all, it was a fun trip, we visited the gift shop and Alex got a little toy biplane and we shared some freeze dried “astronaut” ice cream.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I watched my first HDTV program last night, Monday Night Football. While Amy couldn’t seem to tell the difference, I certainly could. The picture was very clear and crisp. You could see much more detail less grain and brighter colors. What I wasn’t expecting but really liked was the sounds. Football games are loud, the crowd noise blends in with the announcers, but with HD, you also get surround sound, and the play by play was sent to the center channel, making it easier to understand over the crowd noise. I’m looking forward to watching some shows in HD, although, the DVR hard drive is a little small, I won’t be able to record everything I want to watch in HD.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Still No Baby

Well, we are still waiting for things to move along so that baby can be born. We are just running some errands, keeping busy, right now we are at the post office and I'm posting this from my blackberry.

We also went to the bank to deposit some checks and ger Alex some savings bonds with his child support money. Not that it was a lot of money, just what they took from his biological father's tax return, but, the smart thing to do is to save it for Alex's future.

Hmm, Amy has been in the post office for a while, maybe baby decided he wanted to be born on federal property! Probably not, the parking lot is really crowded, so the line is probably long inside.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Baby is Coming

Well, it begins. We went to the hospital this morning and the doctor told Amy to go home and come back when the contractions get to a certain level. That means that baby should be born today or tomorrow. So, we could be heading back to the hospital in an hour or two, maybe later tonight, but I have a feeling, definitely sometime today.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Blackberry Post

Posting from my blackberry, just to see if it works.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Baby Names

I have this uncanny desire to name our new baby with a name that starts with the letter A. It seems that Amy and I had a good grasp on names for girls, and I had settled on names that did not begin with A, something about having a boy is pushing me toward the A names. Of course, we have Andrew, and we have Alexander, both given names starting with the letter A before Amy and I even met, there is just something that seems right with naming our baby boy with a name starting with the letter A. We can’t use Aaron, the boys have a first cousin named Aaron. The name we’ve been discussing the most is Aidan, which I’ve only seen spelled as Aden, but Amy assures me that Aidan is the correct spelling. Let’s hope the next two children are girls, the names will be much easier to figure out, as we pretty much know what we want to do, or at least what we are compromising on. Then again, they won’t ask me what the name is going to be, so, when the time comes, it’s all up to Amy

Monday, October 03, 2005

Our Tax Dollars at Work (Trash Removal)

I guess I should start out by saying that I work for the federal government as an IT contractor. It is 8:08 on Monday morning and a janitor just stopped by my cubical and emptied my trash bin. I don’t know what bothers me more, the fact that if I would have left an old sandwich in the trash can on Friday afternoon and it would have rotted through the weekend, or that someone was actually paid out of our tax dollars to empty the trash can with one empty soda can in it. While I’m complaining, why do they insist on vacuuming the office in the middle of the day? It never fails, I’m on the phone with a customer and in comes the vacuum cleaner, if you ask me, its disrespectful and down right rude.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Simulated Emergency Test

Simulated Emergency Test

Today I participated in a simulated emergency test exercise. Emergency communications is just one of the many aspects of amateur radio that I enjoy. There wasn’t much planning put into the SET here in Frederick County, but that didn’t stop several ham radio operators form participating. My reports were as follows:

This is N3PAQ reporting from the Ballenger Creek Area 3 miles south of Frederick

First Report – 1025 EDT
Blowing Trash Cans and light debris
Trees standing but bending quite a bit
Estimated Winds 40 MPH
Steady to Heavy Rain

Second Report - 1125 EDT
Winds subsided estimated 15 to 20 MPH with stronger gusts
Steady rain
Landline telephone service unavailable

Third Report – 1232 EDT
Winds light estimated 10 to 15 MPH
Light rain
Landline telephone service restored

I called my third report my final report, although the simulation will run until 2PM today. I'll keep listening to the frequency to hear what is going on. Some of the other operators have much better imaginations than I do.

2005 Jefferson Nickel

It is odd that the year 2005 is almost over and this is the first I’ve seen of this new coin. I really like the design of the portrait side of the new nickel. There are two different reverse designs, one being a buffalo, which I haven’t seen in real life yet, the other a Pacific North West image of pines on an ocean ridge.

I’m quite pleased with the changes we have seen in our currency over the past few years. The fifty state quarter program just makes quarters that much more interesting if you ask me. The redesigned bills from a few years ago looked great, and the second redesign of the twenty dollar and fifty dollar bill. I heard that there will be a new ten dollar bill in circulation sometime soon.

Another Trip to Frederick Memorial Hospital

Ahh, there is nothing like spending the night in the hospital, and I wasn’t even the one admitted. Amy had some more preterm labor contractions that needed to be taken care of. Although we both knew that it was still a little to early for baby to come, there was part of us that wanted him to be born today. I slept in a reclining chair for a couple of hours. Alex started out sleeping on the floor because I couldn’t get him to sleep in a chair. Sometime during the night a nurse put two arm chairs together that made a nice bed for him and he slept there for a while. It’s a good thing he brought his sleep doggy. So, it looks like the doctors might let baby be born sometime after October 5, of course, that is still a little early at 36 weeks, but I guess it is a trade off since all the drugs used to stop the preterm labor contractions probably aren’t the best for baby or Amy.