Category Archives: Rambling

Three years, +/- 10 percent, in April, no less

Goddamn it! it’s that time again.

Every three years, give or take a little, I start getting restless and something usually gives. Sometimes, it’s the job that goes (witness my tenure at The Press), sometimes the house (or something with it); sometimes it’s just my attitude. Oh, and did I mention how I absolutely loathe the completely useless month of April?

My job isn’t going out the window this time around; I like it way too much. Though I do have a confession: I’ve been doing my pilot routine again. Hell, I might even get myself worked up to the point of taking lessons this time; anything’s possible. My house isn’t going out the window, either. I mean, really, who’d buy this dilapidated piece of crap, anyway?

Apparently, it’s my attitude that’s going to get the make-over this time around, then. Instead of dwelling on the nasty, muddy, wood chippy shit-hole (literally, around the dog house) that is the yard, maybe I can look at the bright side of things: Wow, that rabbit has gotten really fat and juicy-looking by eating our apple tree and tulips.

AJ’s new toy

I’ll give you some hints: it’s electronic (there’s a big surprise, right?), it’s sexy black, and could potentially fit perfectly in the entertainment center. And it’s not an XBox.

Give up?

Meet my new radio. I’ve been kind of dancing around it for about the last three months while I’ve been dancing around ham radio as a whole.

In the last month, though, every time I’ve talked with someone about my involvement in radio, I keep hearing myself say “I love the technology and the public service opportunities, but get frustrated by some of the people.” Finally, it clicked for me: If I give up, then the forces of darkness other people win. If every time someone new comes to ham radio, all they interact with are grouchy uber-geeks, then that’s they only kind of person that’ll be in ham radio. So I’m going to try to amplify the friendly, useful faces of ham radio around here. We’ll see how it goes.

And that brings me to the new radio. Another local ham* upgraded one of his radios, so he had one to sell. He gave me a great deal (yes, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse ;-)), and the radio is in pristine condition. For those of you who speak ham, it’s an HF+50MHz rig. For those of you who don’t speak ham, think medium and short wave, plus a little. Once I get my antenna repaired (and no, honey, I’m not going on the roof until you get home), I’ll be able to talk regionally (100-500 miles), across the country (500-2,500 miles), and around the world (do the math), depending on conditions. I’m pretty stoked!

A Note on the Ham Community

The guy I bought my radio from is a super-friendly guy, just like almost all of the hams I’ve had the good fortune to meet. There are only a couple of “pain-in-the-ass apples” out there in the ham ranks, but they’re louder than most of us regular apples. Most of us are just geeky people playing with geeky toys, and that’s cool.

Something, but not an environmentalist, necessarily

Thinking about the world and my place in it, I’ve come to realize something: I’m not necessarily an environmentalist.

This may not come as a great shock to the folks who regularly spend time with me these days, but it was eye-opening for me. For the longest time, I’ve assumed I was an environmentalist, but I’m not sure I fit the bill anymore.

I’m all for clean air and clean water. I’m against corporate usury and greed. I think everyone should have a shot at the good life, provided they don’t trample other people in the process. I like to consider the downstream effects of my actions.

However.

People who drive 30 miles to work but think leaving their computer in “sleep” mode overnight is “wasteful” drive me nuts. People who preach about native vs. invasive species don’t see the forest for the trees. And folks who drive hybrid cars because they’re “saving oil” need to refresh their knowledge of physics, ecology, and economics.

Lately, “environmentalism” seems to have become just another way to sell stuff. You’ve got your “green” this and “organic” that, all significantly marked up because if it’s not expensive, it couldn’t possibly be good for the planet. What used to be people taking independent, thoughtful action has been co-opted by the suits at the corner of Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

No matter what label I use for myself (and why, really, do I feel the need to label myself?), there are a few things that I hold sacred. Critical thinking (especially when combined with common sense) is chief among those. Next comes justice, compassion, and personal responsibility. Only after that is a pristine environment any good to me, and really, shouldn’t that flow from the whole “critical thinking” bit?