I was going to wait until the end of December to write this, but know enough about how this year is likely to end to write this now.
The year started out with the cloud of the election hanging over me. I grew up in the New York / New Jersey / Connecticut tri-state area, and knew all about Donald Trump when I was growing up in New Jersey. All of my friends – Democrat and Republican – always thought he was a shyster, a joke and a schmuck. We had a name for such a person – “Showboat” or “Blabbermouth”:
Even my Republican New Yorker friends jokingly said “We warned you!”. Politically, the year seemed very, very grim, but I took big solace in Stephen Colbert’s Late Show but this one segment by Bill Maher (fellow New Jersyian) is and will always be a (telling) masterpiece:
Trump has made comedy great again, and there are two things that strike me as critical in the US:
Forget about politics – Trump is exactly the person I taught my children not to be. I was taught The Golden Rule above all else – both in Church and at school. My rant is much more about Civility rather than Politics. This is because I’ve lived long enough to have been under both parties almost equally, and I’m still alive to talk about it. We will always switch back and forth – but we at least always had a modicum of civility – and that has gone AWOL the last several years. Its a really bad omen. I feel like we have hit full on “Idiocracy” in the USA.
In time – Trump will only be a historical bookmark, and he and his family will be viewed as the political bottom feeders and history will be terribly unkind to them and their “brand”. But even when we are finally flushed of the nasty “Twitler” and his bullying (and way too much daily news about this epic Pathological Narcissist) – we will still have the problems we have today.
As a result of the nastiness, I gave Facebook and Twitter the big boot, and not only do I not miss them, it has given me great relief. At some point I got overloaded by commiserating with friends about the current administration. I also realized that we get the administration we deserve and that if people want change – we the people will have to make it so. Trump’s core is aging and will become a minority both as they rapidly start going SK, and as younger generations pick up the mantle. Demographics will create a new world – but I don’t know exactly what that will be – but I expect there will be a yuge bigly shift to a very progressive society. Its not going to be nirvana though – the problems will just be a different shade of grey. I will be retired by then, so my station in life will be quite different. I will be far away from a major metropolitan area.
As always, a very bright side of life is Ham Radio and getting into the 90’s toward 160M DXCC and 9BDXCC. At this writing I’m at 91, and after hoping for a boost from the CQ WW CW contest and it being a total bust, I realize that my new goal is to make 100 by the end of next year. A miracle could happen, but the “cadence” suggests otherwise.
In the spring I re-landscaped a chunk of our front yard, and the last plantings were in the fall, and were two trees that will replace two that are about to fade and die.
Shortly after the March re-landcaping, I started work at Credit Karma in San Francisco. It has hands down been the best company I have ever worked for since I graduated college with a comp sci degree in 1981.
Antennas are a big part of my life, and there were three I worked on. This one is the “Mod Bob” or Modified Bobtail. It is a great lowband antenna, that when coupled with a Palstar BT1500A at the base / feedpoint, is something to consider. That antenna led me to my first big “Ham Maker” project, the URAT (Universal Remote Antenna Tuner):
I have never learned more than what I did from the Mod Bob plus URAT – at least not in Ham Radio Landia.
In a surprise move, with only 3 weeks before Dayton Hamvention, I booked a trip at Bob, KK6EK’s urging, and was very proud to be on hand to receive the DXpedition of the Year award sponsored by SWODXA. That seemed like the icing on the cake – but we then won DX Coffees “Best Communication Award”. I was honored for my behind the scenes work, and it was really nice to have been recognized as the DXpeditions “5th Beatle” so to speak.
During the summer, I built a small “maker space” to the right of my ham shack radio operating desk, and I have built a couple of small projects just for fun – like this Field Strength Meter:
We went to Montana for a very nice late summer / early fall trip:
I also tried FT8 – which is the only digital mode I like:
I did later realize just how much more I like CW than any other mode . .
After a fall firestorm scare that took place up in Napa and Sonoma counties – and where we had some of their same weird weather for those 2 weeks or so, things calmed down and we had our super display of autumn leaves, and we even started to get rain
I had a couple of late year antenna projects – replacing the Mod Bob with an Inverted L:
and moving my home brewed 20M yagi:
But more than anything that has happened this year, we had just the best Thanksgiving, and more than anything else in my life, my family is and always will be the most important thing in my life:
So, what’s up for 2018:
3Y0Z is the only thing on the Ham Radio calendar. I do expect to work them and then being only 1 away from Top of the Honor Roll. I plan on “puttering” more in the ham maker space and learning how to use my Oscilloscope and Signal generator. I’ll continue my “living history” pursuit in my reading and visiting museums, and I have some really great projects lining up at work. My Data Dictionary project is really taking off.
We will visit Bend, Oregon, but besides these things, I do expect to make 9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M – but at this point it could be the end of 2018.
I used to like to try to guess what might happen – but – besides the DXCC and work stuff – I have no big prognostications – although there will be high drama politically – but even that has “ho hum” in a way since all of the “sensationalization” of the last couple of years has left me numb. And in 3 years it won’t matter much anyway. It will be interesting what happens in the 2018 elections – will there be a “Blue Wave?” I say yes – but the Democrats better put up a 2020 candidate who is the counter to the mess in office we have now.
Family health, happiness and well being is really the only thing that matters, and I always pray we continue to do well in this regard.
Cheers to you and yours – I wish you all the best in 2018!