Sep 28, 2013

Esoteric hobbies

I should have known HAM was going to be a rabbit hole.

Started with the mindset of, "It'd be nice to have the 2m/70cm stuff for aw-shit."

Then I started reading about HF and DXing (outside-the-US contacts), and realized the General exam isn't much of a jump from Tech.

Now I'm reading about QRP (how far can you reach on as little power as possible) and finding things like the SmallWonder Rockmite.

And SOTA (Summits On The Air).

There is something decidedly nifty about the idea of wandering up a hill/mountain with a half-watt CW transceiver and reaching out to someone a thousand miles away.

My Yaesu 7800 is here. A coworker has offered me some of his used gear, including a FT-90 ... which looks to be a nice size for a desktop/kit box setup.

Yep. Dangerous.

Except now I need to learn CW.

Sep 24, 2013

Another machine part...

... from York Arms.

Wally snapped a few pics of the latest run of receivers, including my Freedom Lower:

Left side:

Right side:

There are a TON more beautiful custom pieces over there. Click, go, look around ... order ASAP if you want one of your own, because Wally is predicting things to be a little tight soon.

Sep 23, 2013

A human being...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."  -- RAH, Time Enough For Love

This is likely to be one of those introspective-type posts. Feel free to skip it by if that sort of thing doesn't interest you. Gun content has been at a low lately.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I was slowly ticking off the things on Heinlein's list... and specializing at nothing. It's been a routine for me throughout my life: find a new hobby, interest, etc; learn it well enough to be competent; shelve it as "can-do".

Sometimes this is useful, other times frustrating. I'm not ashamed of any of my skills. There are people out there who are far better writers than I. There are people who are far better photographers. Better shooters (with some overlap to the previously-linked!), better cooks, better healers, better seamstresses, better builders, better farmers, better hunters, better radio operators, better most anything you can name.

And I'm OK with that. No matter how good you are, no matter what level you're working or playing at, there will always be someone, somewhere, somehow, who can and will be better than you. Cassius Clay and Mike Tyson lost bouts. Tiger Woods lost tournaments. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Hank Aaron, the list goes on and on. They've all lost to someone. Records shatter, streaks break - that's the way of things.

I just need to be "good enough". I think, in general, I am. I can wire and plumb a house. Change my oil or brakes. Butcher a critter. Be field-accurate with a rifle out to several hundred yards. Avoid botulism cultures in the fridge. Handle basic first aid. Fell a tree. (Useful concurrent skill set, there.) Do enough advanced math and physics to get by. Dig and plant a garden. Preserve food. Make cheese. Make bread.

Am I ever going to be another AD, Marko, Roberta, Tam, Jay, Peter, Robert, MrsZ, Pediem, or Brigid?

Of course not! That's them, and I'm me!

Am I envious of their abilities sometimes? Of course. Marko and Peter have people buying their work. Jay has a new gig that's damn near perfect for him. Roberta talks radios in ways that are WAY over my head. Brigid (aside from being a wicked smaht secret squirrel) is a fantastic cook. Pediem can set a bone, then go home and bake a couple dozen cookies that are to die for. I'd love to be able to do the things they do... but they're them. I'm me.

And I'm OK with that.

The latest tick-mark on the skill list? HAM. I'm studying for my Tech and General tests, sitting for them in just under three weeks, and fully expecting to pass both with no trouble. I've got a nice used dual-band (2m/70cm) mobile on the way and will eventually start looking for a HF for the long-distance stuff. If I'm comfortable with the General this week, I'm going to start cramming for Extra - because I might as well have it if I can get it. I might even learn CW - just so I can try it. Something about "talking" halfway around the world with a set that I can stuff in my truck is pretty damn cool.

Stay tuned. (Pun fully intended.)