Category: amateur radio

Tues. Feb. 14, 2023 – it’s like deja vu all over again…

Cool and damp.  Wet and muggy.  Pretty close to the same thing right now.   Wasn’t bad yesterday, with clear skies until later in the day, and then it was just a few clouds.   The temperature did come up in the evening, which was a bit weird.  64F when I went to bed.

Did my big drive down to Dickenson to pick up and drop off.  Sold one freezer.   Picked up two more.  Took them back to my storage unit.   I’ve got more organizing and sorting to do there, but it’s supposed to rain today.  Can’t pull half the stuff out into the rain in order to sort the other half.

If it does rain, I’ll find something to do.   There’s a list you know…

Birthday is approaching and everything is coming due.   Renewed my driver’s license online.  Filed the renewal for my LTC online too.   Will have to file my ham license renewal today.  There are a couple of extra steps to go through this time, due to changes at the FCC.  Renewed my membership in my hobby org a couple of months ago to get an early bird special.   Several trade magazines wanted to be renewed this month too.    Spring is all about renewal I guess.   I just hope not in the Logan’s Run sense…

Had a big outage here last night.  Longest one we’ve ever had.   If the host company shares anything with us, I’m sure Rick will share what he can.   If it happens again, you can check for a status update at   If I’ve had time to do one…

Hopefully the hamsters will get back on their wheels and keep running into the future.  Lazy little furballs.

Today will depend on the weather.   I’ve got a couple of minor things to pick up, and lots of options for other work here, so I’m sure I’ll be able to keep busy.

It’s all about keeping busy, as long as progress is made.

Too many weird things happening in the world, time to be conservative in the classical sense.  If you saw all of what’s going on today, looking back from ten years in the future, would the steps to world changing conflict look so obvious you can’t believe that people didn’t see them?  Consider that.   And consider that people do and did see them but it happened anyway.   Then consider your plan for the next few years.


Stack it up while the stacking is good.



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Thur. Dec. 22, 2022 – yup 12222022 – work fascinates me, I could watch it all day…

Cold.  Wet.   More cold later.   40F when I went to bed.    Wed. wasn’t too bad.  I wore a jacket and just a sweatshirt while I was working at my storage unit.

I did manage to rearrange, sort, and stack stuff.   Made room to get some stuff out of the house.   We will have room for a Christmas tree now…  which we will have to get today.  And my mom, we’ll have to get her too. And an antenna tower.   Gotta get that.

Oh, child 1 will be getting her braces off.   If they get up after staying up to all hours watching the Addams family movies again.  Missed the appointment Wednesday morning due to sleeping in.  I guess we’ll see how important it really is.

Once D1 is not a brace face anymore, and W1 has dropped her car at the repair place for some brake work, I’ll  be free to pick up my big antenna tower.   It’s a Wade DMX 52.   Free standing, no guys, good for 3 sq ft of antenna wind load.   Some how the anchors and hardware kit seem to have gone missing so I’ll have to order those, but it looks like it was never installed.   I might try to sell it at the hamfest in March, as it is really pretty dang big (52 ft tall!)  Setting it up at the BOL would give me better reach and reception for ham radio… but it’s a $4000 antenna tower, and if I could get half that, I’d make good money on it.   On the other hand, I’d never get an antenna tower like it for the money I paid.  On the gripping hand, I’ll have to order the parts kit and anchors from the factory, and dig a big hole and fill it with concrete in order to set up the tower.  That probably won’t be cheap, but it would be common expense to any tower.


Meanwhile, my wife will be taking my expedition to pick up my mom from the airport.   So I better make sure it’s clean and fueled before I head out.   Probably should get some groceries in, since it’s my normal time to do that.  Hope the panic buying hasn’t stripped the store.  Oh, and I should at least test the gennie… and the heaters.

Work.  Got plenty, thanks.

Stack stuff.   Learn stuff.   Build your network.


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Sun. Jun. 5, 2022 – working, but not just…

Cool morning, to hot day later, but still nicer than Houston.   It was at least 10 degrees cooler up here yesterday.  Still brain boiling hot in the sun though, so I waited a bit before weeding in the garden.


I don’t see any sprouts, well, one or two things that might be veg, but mostly I see grass.   Pulling it by hand, I can do a row in about 10 minutes.  Two rows and my back is screaming at me though, so I didn’t get the whole thing weeded.  Depending on temps, I’ll do more today.

I’ve got inside stuff to alternate with outdoor stuff to try and keep reasonably cool.

Last night was great.  I spent a bit of time at sunset actually fishing.   Didn’t get even a nibble, but I spent the time casting and tried a couple of different baits.   Then after dinner, I lit a fire in the metal fire pit out on the dock and spun the dial on the shortwave for a couple of hours.

Nice open bands, heard some DX I never manage to hear, and even an australian station that I rarely hear at home.   I need a good antenna and a bigger radio… or a good radio and a bigger antenna….

Since I can see the stars up here, I’m motivated to learn more about them.  There might even be some astronomy content in the future.  I did see about a dozen nice meteors, more than when we were watching the shower, but they weren’t as dramatic.  Neat to see in any case.

Lots of big splashes on the lake too.  If I could figure out how to catch them, I’d be eating fish tonight.             Figuring that out is fairly high on the list of preps.

Speaking of preps, I did move some more food up here.   We could go a month without starving, but we’d be pretty bored.   I’m working on expanding both duration and variety.   A chest freezer and a big UPS is pretty high on the list.  ‘Course, septic is too.

Still stalled on the big projects waiting for other people.

Got plenty to do in the mean time.

BTW the propane “camping” instant water heater is working really well.   It’s a bit of a comfort item, although hygiene is important, and morale is too.  $200 well spent so far.   No idea about longevity, but the only negatives in the amazon listings were people who let it freeze with water inside.   Given proper maintenance, I don’t see why it couldn’t last a long time.      If you’ve got the basics covered, I can vouch for how nice a hot shower is when you are filthy and sore.

One more thing to stack.

Stack all the things.  You are your own infrastructure provider.


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Sat. Mar. 26, 2022 – home, briefly, then out again, probably

Cool and sunny, clear and nice.   I hope.  Yesterday was exactly what you want from a lakehouse wrt weather.   And it wasn’t bad at home in Houston either.   Spring is great here for the couple of days it lasts.

It doesn’t feel like prepping when I’m not in the store buying rice and canned goods.   Getting the BOL ready to occupy is a major prep, but it doesn’t feel like it.  The 5 hour round trip is a time killer too.

But, after picking up stuff today, I’ll probably head up there to drop it all off.   I can’t leave it here, and it can’t stay in the back of my truck.  It’s almost all destined for the BOL anyway.    There is a natural duplication of stuff when you have more than one location to stock.  I don’t want to be bringing brooms and mops back and forth, nor yard and garden tools.  Some specialized stuff will go back and forth for the nonce.   Stuff like power tools, tree trimming stuff, and construction tools are too expensive at the moment to just duplicate.   EVENTUALLY I’ll have a full set of tools up there, but not just yet.

I may even buy a new gasoline chainsaw for up there.   A gas blower and string trimmer would be useful too.

I spent the night up there spinning the dial on my shortwave radio and there were soooo many signals.  I can’t wait to get a proper radio and antenna set up.   I was surprised to see that there were 5 local repeaters too.  1 for digital voice and 4 traditional ham repeaters.   I didn’t hear any traffic on them, but I’ll  dedicate an analog scanner to those freqs and keep an ear open.   It would be nice to have some ham community up there.  It would help give me an ‘in’ with the locals.   I swear it’s like Peyton Place.   Everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows everyone’s business.   It’s a bit more intense meatspace than I’m used too…

But, most of your help, and most of your trouble is going to come from close to home.  It’s worth it to find our place in the community to get that support and avoid what trouble we can.   Everyone has been very nice so far, but it could just be ‘southern’ nice.   We’re definitely in our trial period.  Hope we have long enough to get to the “us” instead of “them.”

So, stack some cans, but stack some community too.  It takes time, and like a garden, you need to get started early.


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Wed. Oct. 27, 2021 – getting more work to do, and some small portion done

Hot and damp again, although the chance of rain seems to be lessened a bit. We got a couple of spritzes of rain late in the day. Just enough to convince me to put the tarp back on the truck, but not even really enough to get wet.

Among my tasks for today are getting stuff out of the house and out of storage and TO the auction. I also need to arrange and maybe pick up a car trailer for my Thursday adventure picking up my parts truck. Wife was not thrilled btw. Who knew? If I leave it in the lot at my secondary, it will get destroyed, starting with cutting out the catalytic converter, ending with someone breaking windows and using the back seat to fornicate, or defecate. Neither is appealing to me. If I can’t flip it to the repair place it will be in my driveway for a while.

One of my auction stops was for radio stuff, antenna cables mostly but there was some other stuff in the box. The other stop was the county surplus facility. I haven’t been there in a long time so I spent some time chatting with the clerk/admin that runs the office. They are getting crazy high prices for their surplus, mostly from new buyers. This was the case last time I was there too, but has only increased. There are a lot of people trying to be resellers and competition for product is getting intense. While I was there chatting a buyer called in and renounced her lot, offering it to anyone who wanted it. It was radios and chargers. Yep, I’ll have that for free, thanks. Turned out to be FRS/GMRS mostly but also one nice Moto business radio. I officially have far too many of the little radios and should start pairing them up and selling them.

With the radios and antenna stuff, that aspect of prepping gets a few more thing on the stack. I’ve been doing food, and hard to get medical. Now I need some bigger things, like the gennie hookup, whole house water heater, and master bath … since it’s getting cooler, attic work is back on the table. Oh, and I need to get my client sorted.

All while decorating for Halloween, and then the endless stream of holiday preps, including freaking air travel Thanksgiving week. I better get cracking.

Keep stacking.


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Sun. Oct. 3, 2021 – maybe today will be a busy day

Humid. Very humid. Slightly less hot than summer, but humid. I don’t think it got above 80F yesterday but it was so humid I was dripping sweat just standing in the garage.

I slept late. I actually got up early but my back hurt, and I’d been up way too late, so I thought I’d lie down for another hour. Two hours later, I got up again. Back pain is weird, it’s more spread out than normal, is closer to the skin in some way, and sharper. Usually it’s very much down in the bones, and the tissues close to them. Weird.

Fed the kids breakfast (hash browns fried in bacon fat) and spent the day doing things that needed doing, but not getting out or to my secondary to work there. I’ll try again today. The auction pickups that would normally get me out the door didn’t happen because the auction host company has been down for 2 days so far as victim of a ransomware attack. All of their auction customers nationwide are affected, and so are THEIR customers. Lots of disruption to what are usually small, local businesses.

Cut the grass, restocked the house, did some ebay and auction stuff. Poked at the computer and kibitzed about the changes here as our unsung hero Rick bangs on the machinery trying to bend it to his will. He’s had some successes. The goal is increased reliability, which is worth some disruption. Chasing the internal server 500 errors was getting to be a big frustration for him and all of the commentors alike. We will likely continue seeing tweaks and changes for a while. Be kind. Assume positive intent. Remember it’s an unpaid and unloved job that he’s doing, and it’s not one I’m competent to do, nor do I have any desire to do it. It would be nice to have some backup for Rick so if you have the skills or interest, leave a note.

It would be nice to have some backup for ME, so if you have a comment that is going to be long and self contained, consider emailing it to me for use as a guest post. No promises, guarantees, warranties, or predictions, at my sole discretion. If I don’t want to use it as a separate post, you can still post the comment… and if you have something to say or contribute but would rather not say it yourself, email me and I’ll use it like Bob did when one of the prepper couples would email him. I’d love an update from anyone Bob featured that way too. Email is my first name at aol dot com.

Comms, networks, information, all important, and all bear some additional thought. Might be that dial up BBSs come back in vogue. Takes more legally to mess with actual phone lines… but of course WROL that’s not much of a consideration. Might be worth looking at data over ham radio to mailing lists or BBSs… possibly some combination with the ip based linking and conference repeaters…hmm. Shortwave with a data stream embedded? Weather fax single sheets like the broadsheets of old? SSTV on ham freqs? Time, probably past time, to start thinking about long term and worst cases, at least as thought experiments. Alex Jones is certainly glad he has his show on shortwave radio, after being shut out of all other media. Just saying.

In the absence of orders, keep stacking.


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Wed. June 30, 2021 – summer is flying by

Hot and humid, chance of rain. We did get rain yesterday, and sun, and heat (but not terrible heat). Today should be more of the same.

Spent the day mostly indoors, doing a bunch of stuff I’ve put off too long. Paid my toll invoices for driving around without toll tags in my new truck. Put the toll tag in the truck. Did a bunch of other paperwork stuff. Played with the puppy.

Today should be a bit more active. I have to do an auction pickup, and take both kids for their Girl Scout Camp physicals. I’ve got other auction stuff to do too. I was sorting through some stuff to sell in one of the local auctions last night. She’s got a guy who buys all of one particular item that she lists, and I’ve got a bunch of them. She’s waved me off on general items since she has a huge listing backlog, but maybe I can squeeze a dozen of these in. While going through that box of stuff, I might also have found a really good score. I’ll share with the guy who gave me the box though, I’d feel bad taking it all, it’s that good a score, and there were other things in the box that should bring good money on their own.

Part of the fun of thrifting/estate/garage/yard sale hunting is the treasure hunt aspect. You literally don’t know what you will find, and sometimes you do find the treasure.


Got my FCC license for GMRS about 10 hours after I applied. It’s a “pay the fee and get the license” application, and the license covers your whole family. The FCC isn’t issuing actual hard copies anymore, they just send a link to a pdf. I guess there is very little intrinsic value in the paper, that would make it worth forging. In any case, I’m current for GMRS again. FWIW, I got a new license rather than renew my lapsed one. There were two additional hoops to jump through and a huge fee ($210) to bring my old one current, so I just got a new one ($70 for 5 years) instead.


There are a lot of people that would make arguments against paying for the GMRS license, working from at least 3 different points of view. Don’t care. I don’t want to give them (.gov) that handle to use against me.


There are a lot of lists out there. My radio stuff puts me on one or more. My CERT training put me on another. My previous work clients put me on yet more lists. I’m a blogger, which probably puts me on a list. I am on lists with HPD and our Constable’s office, and the associated alumni groups. Purchasing certain items with background checks put me on a list. Visa and Mastercard probably maintain lists based on my purchase history. Amazon certainly does, and likely collaborates with .gov by compiling and selling lists. My school district has me on at least 4 lists. I’ve been to China twice so I’m on lists there, and I’m certain the US State Dept. has me on lists because of my travel to the middle east and the middle kingdom. I’m on a list in Canada, I had a work permit there for several years. I was working on a project subject to ITAR and had to go through that paperwork – that’s another list. At one point in my miss-spent youth, I’m sure I was on some other agencies’ lists as a “known associate”. There may even be criminal enterprises that have me on a list, if they do that sort of thing.

Don’t let the fact that you’ll end up on a list keep you from doing something. There are lots of us on lists, and the more there are, the more noise there is to get lost in. Use the lists to your advantage. I have access to more training activities now that I’m on a vetted list with HPD and the Constable’s Office. The CERT training is very broad based, and definitely worth trading for a spot on a list. So is ham radio. Medical training likewise.

If everyone’s the ‘biggest risk to the US’ then no one is.

Of course, be aware of when you really DON’T want to be on the list, and try to conduct at least part of your life so you don’t get on lists. Especially when it comes to stacking, you don’t want to be on the list of resources to be plundered. And since local is the new hotness, be very careful about getting on your neighbors’ lists… and consider making a few of your own.

You can think of the lists while you’re stacking.


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Mon. June 14, 2021 – a fresh new week!

Hot and humid. Possibility of rain. Yada yada, Houston, mumble… Yeah well it got to 107F in the sun at my house yesterday so that’s pretty stinking hot. And I mean stinking, especially after working outside… Today should be similar, with rain possible in the national forecast. It was still high 80s when I went to bed, so if the front moves in and brings some cooling with the rain, I guess I’ll live with rain.

Spent yesterday doing stuff around the house, and not much of it. Other than cutting the grass in the hottest part of the day, I mostly hid in my office. I did get two of my radios finally connected back up to their antennas and power supply, so that was something off the list. They might still have some cabling clean up in their future, but for now, I can at least listen again.

My auction pickup was vintage camping gear. There was a vintage sleeping bag (Comfy, Seattle Quilt Co) that might be worth some money, and a brand new lantern that I have to take a good look at. Styled like a coleman, but all shiny chrome, some research is in order. With the vintage pair of Filson boots I picked up at Goodwill, all I need is a red flannel shirt and I’m all set to hit the woods, 60s style.

While I was in and out of my office, I ripped another 20 or 30 CDs and 15 or 20 DVDs. Haven’t figured out why the Bluray disks won’t rip, but I haven’t looked too hard given all the other stuff on my list.

I updated my NVR linux install. It hasn’t been stable at all, but it’s the MS dotnet stuff that keeps crashing. At least once a day I get a seg fault or some other error, so I decided to try running update. I de-selected all the “move to the next version of dotnet (5)” stuff because it broke the NVR last time. That left the linux stuff and the fixes to dotnet 3. If it hasn’t crashed by later this morning, there has been an improvement.

In-laws were safely delivered to the airport and JetBlue’s tender mercies, so I have my house to myself again. Didn’t make MIL cry this visit, so that’s a win. Didn’t really talk to her at all about anything though. Didn’t say much to FIL either. My wife and I both love our families but there are reasons we live 2000 miles away. I wish it were different but if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.* I try very hard to not get between them and the grandkids, except when my kids need protecting from their bizarre ideas. Fun to eavesdrop when oldest supports Trump in conversations with them. They dodge and bail on the subject pretty quickly. When a 12yo sees the truth, it’s pretty obvious and only the willfully blind refuse to see.

Today I’m stuck at home with the kids so I’ll be doing office and PC stuff. There is plenty of it to do. And when I get stressed, I’ll play with the puppy.

Keep stacking.


*or living on a spaceship

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Sun, June 13, 2021 – ah rest. Feels so good, I would like to try it.

Hot and humid, small chance of rain. Yesterday was 97F in the sun, and there was lots of sun. Was still 82F at midnight. Today should be more of the same, except for being on the edge of the predicted rain might see us get wet.

Went to my non-prepping hobby and it was great. Good meeting. Nice to be out and see people again. I didn’t end up even starting with the mask on, and no one else did either.

Later in the day we went to dinner at the same restaurant we tried when my mom was out here. This time there wasn’t even a sign on the door. All the staff was still masked, but none of the sitting patrons were. Most of the entering patrons still expected masks, including my family, but took them off and left them off after moving to a table. The place is a bit on the expensive side, date night or expense account not “let’s grab dinner out”, but it wasn’t exactly jumping on a Saturday evening. More patrons than our last visit though. Not as tasty as our last visit either.

Driving to my meeting at 8:30am felt like 6:30 in terms of traffic and people out and about. Things are not “normal” in any way yet.

Nothing stacked today, but I got a lead on a ham radio estate. We’ll see if it pans out, but it’s always fun to think about the hunt, and it was good to meet a new guy with shared interests.

Today I have one auction pickup, and in the late afternoon my inlaws need a ride to the airport. In between, yard work, gardening, cleanup, and the last of the tax prep? Maybe? Please Gnu yes.

And what stacking I can do, I will do, and so should you do!


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Thur. May 6, 2021 – the revenge of the sixth…

Cool and nice, like yesterday. Granted it did get warmer by late afternoon, and in the abundant sun,but it started cool and was cool in the shade. Not exactly dry, but nice.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of getting stuff done. I did get my two pickups done, one by IAH one by HOU, so not exactly efficient for gas or time, but many useful household things were acquired at bargain prices. It was a ‘pick the child up from school’ afternoon, so that limited my ability to get things done.

I did start loading stuff back into the Expedition. I still have to go through my work tools and supplies and cut back where I can and organize the rest, but I could throw all the bins into the truck and go to work tomorrow if needed. I have insurance coverage on the new truck, and the sirius/xm radio should be activated. Still need to pair my phone, do any updates to the OS and apps, and mess with the Sync functions of the ‘info-tainment’ system.

I really need to get the pickup truck in to the repair place. The problem is, it’s my ‘work’ truck and I generally load a bunch of stuff into the back at least once a week if not more often. Everything I have on my list at my secondary location requires the pickup. I’m going to have to suck it up and just get the repairs done.

One big difference between my old Expy and the new one, the old one had the shifter on the steering column, and a HUGE center console. The new one has the shifter in the center, and a tiny little console, with part of the space taken up by a power point and two usb ports. I don’t think I can even get a locking container into the tiny little thing. Aside from the storage issue, there isn’t any room for a ham radio or scanner. There was tons of room in the old truck. I’m trying to find room behind the dash or behind other panels in the new Expy. I can remote mount the control head for my dual band radio and bury the main body wherever it fit, but it’s just that much more work. If I don’t do it as part of ‘moving in’ to the new truck, it probably won’t get done though. Lists, I’ve got ’em.

Speaking of radios, the scanner was chock full of encrypted traffic for the last couple of days. HPD on their ‘tactical’ channels, and on their ‘homeland security’ channels, squawking all day. I can’t understand the traffic, but I can note the increase… and Baytown has been running disaster training scenarios on the radio all week too. Good to know they’re working on rescues and multi-victim structure fires. That SCBA gear sure makes it difficult to understand the firefighters on the radio but that’s a small price to pay for the lives it saves. Someone is also running surveillance on drug dealers, with a big buy op yesterday evening. If you’re not listening in to your local action, you should be.

You all know the drill, get to stackin’.


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