Monday, March 13, 2017

Ham Radio - mixed signals

Some time around 2004 I started to get involved in volunteer public service.  I joined the Indianola Volunteer Fire Department, and started training with the group to certify as a wildland fire fighter.  As things progressed, we expanded the scope of our training to include certification for structure fires.  Before that, any calls for such services were dispatched from Fairview, which was a long trip for a slow fire engine.  Most fire calls in the area, they arrived too late to do much but manage the bonfire.

As things developed, I encountered a need in our group for someone who could install and learn how to operate the radios used by our engines to communicate with the Sanpete County dispatch.  I started learning about radios.  Some of the experienced Ham Radio operators in Sanpete sponsored training class to qualify for Amateur Radio licenses, and I took the course, and passed the exam.  I got plenty of good help from guys like Barry Bradley, WB7REL.  And my friend Spencer, W7SUR.

I got more involved in installing radio equipment in our fire engines, and played with the Ham Radio.

Then in 2008, I experienced a debilitating stroke, and was challenged with difficulty talking.  I could no longer speak clearly or rapidly, and experienced some exasperating difficulty speaking many of the words I was accustomed to using.  In other words, with the chronic health condition known as "aphasia", I felt like I sounded like a total retard.

I soon realized that Ham Radio operators had a speech pattern on the radio that assumed everyone could communicate rapidly and clearly.  All the best conversations on the air are snappy and quick.  Some of the nature of speaking on the radio made this necessary and practical.  I could no longer comfortably communicate in that mode.  Sadly, I hung up my fire fighting gear and my radios, and resigned myself face remaining life as a cripple.

After almost ten years in this debilitated condition, and getting past many other daunting health challenges, I realized that I have no idea if my life is done, or when it will be.  Doctors are doing their best to keep me breathing and above ground.  I need things to keep myself busy.  I need another hobby to occupy myself.  One of my friends gave some information about starting a new Ham Radio club in Utah Valley, and I decided to shake the dust bunnies out of my old radios, and try them out again.


Well, I gave it a try.  After a brief trial, I realized that I face the same old challenges as when I abandoned the radios the first time.  I can still approach some level of technical proficiency, but not enough to compensate.  I will never be comfortable about trying to project a radio presence with such a self-conscious awareness of my chronic handicap.  

After some effort and expense, I have decided that my shelf of radios are good for listening to.  But I will never be happy about the way I talk.  And I can never hope to compete with the normal operators of FM Ham radio.

After somewhat abortive attempt to reenter the Ham Radio universe, I have discovered that I self-identify as a permanent self-absorbed reclusive hermit - which is conveniently packaged together with chronic debilitating disease.  I am just not a club personality, and it makes my attempts to break in look rather intrusive and ridiculous, and sometimes slightly unsettling to others.

I am not abandoning friends and neighbors in the community, and am still monitoring traffic on the 2m and 70cm bands with avid interest. Just don't feel much like talking, and not suitably mobile or healthy to attend face-to-face meetings.

From time to time I try to raise a conversation on the air, but mostly I will just be listening. Nothing personal against anyone. Just the way I roll, and too much old geezer in me to change at this point.

I will still maintain my radio gear in a state of readiness.  In that rare event where communication needs outweigh my personal challenges, I will try to be ready.  In the mean time, I will mostly remain a silent key.  Where I belong.  KE7GWJ.  -.- . --... --. .-- .---  ... -.-... -.-... -.-.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Leaving the Thundering Herd

Several times during my life, enticed by a hint of color high on the mountain, I ventured into interesting space other nearby people overlooked or ignored. When I was a student at UCR, the solitude of the Box Springs Mountains loomed only a couple of miles away from the bustling campus. I hardly ever even saw the mountains, because the Riverside smog was always so heavy. One exceptional clear day, I noticed a patch of color high on the side of the near peak. Local people told me it was just summer weeds. But I had to look for myself. Because that's the way I roll. So I hiked up the mountainside. And as I approached the highest highs, I found myself wading through a riotous blaze of golden California Poppies blooming across the high meadows. Acres and acres of them, and I felt like I had them all to myself.
Then I realized I was not quite alone. As I wandered among the boulder-strewn slopes, I was challenged by some of the local residents. Big ugly black lizards objected to my encroachment. Later I found out their common name is Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater), related to Iguanas. There were dozens of them sunning themselves in the rocks, like dinosaurs taking a nap, and as I approached they made hissing noises and acted like they would love to bite me for disturbing the peace.

(To be continued...)

Revisiting: A Standard of Our Own

The classic Book of Mormon icon, Captain Moroni raises the Title of Liberty to rally his followers.

In the October 2015 General Conference, President Monson delivered two messages.  Unless we read in context, at least superficially some of his counsel seems contradictory.  At the Priesthood Session, President Monson counselled in his address "Keep the Commandments"...
The Apostle Paul lists six attributes of a believer, attributes that will allow our lights to shine. Let us look at each one...
I mention the first two attributes together—being an example in word and in conversation. The words we use can lift and inspire, or they can harm and demean.
But then a stern warning...
We read in 1 Corinthians: “There are … so many kinds of voices in the world.”  We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are LOUD voices.
I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety.
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”  We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”

The emphasis in his comments was that instead of heeding the noise of many different loud voices, we must heed the still small voice, promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

Then in his opening address on Sunday, his counsel...
Let us speak to others with love and respect, ever keeping our language clean and avoiding words or comments that would wound or offend. May we follow the example of the Savior, who spoke with tolerance and kindness throughout His ministry.
The apparent contradiction comes with the worldly definition for "comments that would wound or offend".  Many of the sources of the LOUD voices take occasion to be "offended" by almost every word we might say.  They claim to be "wounded" by any mention of the doctrines of Christ.

President Monson cites Jesus Christ as the example of the example of tolerance and kindness, but even Jesus spoke harsh criticisms of those who merited strong criticism.

He did not shrink from harsh condemnation of those who deserved it.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 
Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?  (Matthew 23:14-17)
President Monson certainly understands the intent and message of these scriptures, so his counsel is fully intended to be interpreted from that context. 

We need to continue to promote standards of our own, not compromise our values to speak kindly to soften our words in behalf of those who merit more severe criticism.  It is not a kindness to withhold appropriate sternness from those who try to advocate compromising the commandments of God.  It is not loving to fail to warn those who sin and embrace evil, bringing sorrow and ruin along with them, into the lives of everyone who is touched by their influence.

President Monson's example sets the standard for this.  He does not tone down his rhetoric out of concern that it might possibly offend the LOUD voices.  The guilty will always use the "he offends me" complaint.  They would likely feign offense and bleeding hearts even if he said nothing at all.

Instead, while condemning the sources of evil and ill will with no equivocation, he refrains from employing extra derogatory or hyperbolic characterizations.  Right is right, wrong is wrong, good is good, and evil is evil - it requires no further elaboration or nuance.

An example of making our own voices understood against the competing background was expressed in the April 2015 General Conference by Elder L. Tom Perry...
We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.
On the following Wednesday, the Salt Lake Tribune published a reaction from a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, advocating to promote homosexual behavior, expressing "deep disappointment" in Perry's comments, which it believes "disparage LGBT families and children as 'counterfeit.' "

HRC asserts families which promote homosexual lifestyles "are not counterfeit — they are real and beautiful.  We encourage Mr. Perry and his fellow apostles to embrace the diversity that already exists within their own church, and reject the language and practice of intolerance."

This is exactly what President Monson refers to as "the plague of permissiveness" and "the plague of immorality."

Then there was a more recent incident of an group of atheists demanding that teaching of LDS Institute Classes at the University of Utah must be stopped, claiming that it is a violation of the Constitutional Establishment Clause.  More belittling and confusing voices.

In the words of the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah,
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.  (Isaiah 5:20)
The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.  (Isaiah 29:19-21)
When dissidents and detractors insist that Prophets who speak for God must restrain themselves from speaking offensive words which contradict their own LOUD voices, they are living by the popular standard Isaiah described so long ago.

Our Prophet of today, President Monson, in his two General Conference addresses, sets the example for us all.  Keep the commandments, and be an example and a light.  Not that any softening of God's commandments or any less condemnation of sin is warranted.

Stand for Something, or You'll Fall for Anything

I stand by my understanding that we are obligated to be true to ideals that derive from correct principles. We should be driven by those values, not by public pressure from the "politically correct", Fake News, or from Facebook "friends". The foundation of some ideals are absolute, notwithstanding arguments to the contrary. You worship the gods you choose to obey.

Thinking is Hard Work

I enjoyed hearing about the exercises illustrated in this video.

Oy, the Earth does not take one day to go round the Sun.  Takes it a year!

How much personal energy do we devote to cognitive functions?

BTW, I perform very poorly on the test with remembering the string of numbers.  But I have excellent grouping skills.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Embittered about the Predominance of Useful Idiots

Why am I fooling myself?  Few people want to look at graphs.  Still fewer understand what they even mean.  We are a nation of college-educated, willfully ignorant, useful idiots.  And we cannot tolerate anything that reminds us of our own ignorance.

Initially I thought it was the just the Feminazis.  I tried to engage them in the past, in a discussion about human genetics.  Total non-comprehension.  Nevertheless, I persisted.  They were outraged, and threw me out of their "open" discussion forum.   I am doubtful that many in the audience could even spell "genetics", let alone know what it means.  My cynicism was fully justified.

I found some temporary satisfaction in breaking through their protective blocking software.  I dropped several unprovocative comments without disclosing my true identity.  Nobody noticed.  After overcoming the software challenge I got bored with them.  There is little independent or original thinking.

Genetics isn't even a topic for which I consider myself particularly knowing or smart.  But I can at least spell "chromosome".  Sometimes I even manage more difficult concepts like "DNA".  The Internet is a wealth of information at our summoning.  Sad commentary that by far, the heaviest use today is distribution of pornography.  Some of it graces the pages of the New York Times.

Unfortunately the social phenomenon is so widespread as to be nearly ubiquitous.  This is not just the left side of the bell curve.  We are a culture of morons, marching around mindlessly raging about "pussy grabbing" while we later curl up at home with the latest mommy porn so raptly counting the shades of perversion.  No wonder all are so easily manipulated by the Fake News stream.

The extremist idiots are well represented through the political spectrum.  Right-wing nuts are perhaps, if it were possible, even less coherent than today's representative Feminazi in the engagement of an incomprehensible stream of enraged profanity-laced protests and the comical Internet memes they put up as a replacement of critical rhetoric.

Yes, we are manifestly a nation of college-educated, willfully ignorant, useful idiots.  Intellectual cripples.  If we had enough collective intelligence to feel embarrassed, we would all feel ashamed. Instead of perhaps just publicly acting stupid.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Utah Snowpack 2017

USDA NRCS Snotel (snow telemetry) provides selected monitoring sites throughout Utah and the western US.  This particular graphic characterizes the snow accumulation at Timpanogos Divide monitoring site.

Another graph illustrating SWE and Precip at Daniels-Strawberry monitoring station, 2017-to-date compared with 2016 data.  Note the dramatic contrast, more than 100% difference.

Another graph showing accumulation data from Ben Lomond Peak north of Ogden.  Again comparing the current and previous year.  If you note, for this location the scale is staggering.

Lines showing what seems to be "normal" or "average" are nothing of the sort.  Rather, they plot the data accumulation over a selected range of past history.  For weather patterns, there really seems to be no such thing as "normal".  Or perhaps more accurately, if you need to see what is "normal" today, stick your head out the window and check.

In any case, the accumulated total precip and snow water equivalent are trending rather high compared to past weather data.  Some would even say it is not too early to start planning for catastrophic flooding when the weather turns hot.  Many of Utah's reservoirs, which also serve as flood control resources, are already filled over nominal capacity.

So get ready for an interesting and lively spring season.  Our problems in Utah will be nothing compared to the potential wave of disaster that threatens to crest over California.

This graph plots snow accumulation data from near Mammoth Lakes in California.  Comparing current and last year.

Wow.  Oh, wow!  Are you California guys STILL complaining of drought?