Monthly Archives: January 2009

Happy Birthday Geo W9TDH

Geo Marts W9TDH is 92 years old today, 1/31/2009. He has been an amateur radio operator since the 1940s, and has helped many hams getting started.

Happy Birthday, Geo!

Tom W0TDH, one of the hams Geo elmered back in the 1950s, wrote about this in a radio operators’ forum and hams from all over the country are sending birthday greetings to Geo.

This is a copy of the QSL (or, contact) card I sent today for Geo’s birthday. QSL cards are confirmation of two-way communications between amateur radio operators. The QSL card tradition dates from at least 1916, and is very much alive.


Debbie and I have both been amateur radio operators since March 2006. I have received several QSL cards since starting long distance amateur radio communication in 2007. Until yesterday I had not created a QSL card to send to other operators I contact.

This morning at 1400 UTC I answered a call from an operator asking for response from any non-Europe station. I contacted Pierre in Sweden (Gothenburg), my first Sweden contact and only my second European contact. Very cool for intelligible wireless voice transmission to travel approx 4,000 miles.

Yesterday morning I contacted stations in San Jose, California, in Toronto, Canada and in Chelsea, Michigan. It’s time to learn to send QSL cards, eh?

Debbie keeps pinching me!

I’m getting pinched a lot these last few weeks. Oh, I’m not complaining. I know why it happens, although I’m surprised initially whenever I’m pinched by anyone. But I know Debbie never would intentionally hurt me. She must have a purpose in pinching me, right?

The weather has been delightful for walking, using the outdoor swimming pool or whirlpool, and just hanging around outside. The weather is excellent for golf or tennis, even in the cooler mornings. How is sleeping through cool nights? The best! We snuggle together under three blankets and love the cool weather.

Picking fresh pineapple oranges near Okeechobee, FL

Picking fresh pineapple oranges near Okeechobee, FL

Last Saturday I went a few miles north of Okeechobee with friends and picked buckets of tangerines and pineapple oranges. The fruits are the juiciest and tastiest I’ve ever had and are all the sweeter for our picking them ourselves from the trees. We filled three 5 gallon buckets full in no time at all and are eating juicy tasty fresh fruit every day.

It’s a little cold in Okeechobee, Florida, this week. We couldn’t get on the golf course greens until 1000 hours this morning because of the frost. The outside temperature is a chilly 50 degrees Farenheit at 2100 hours this evening. You can see, no doubt, this is pretty chilly weather. Right? Oh, but the high temperature today was approximately 70 degrees. And tomorrow and the next day promise to be a little nicer. No complaints about the weather.

We’ve had enough bright sunlight each day we’ve kept our 12 volt system fully charged with only the solar panels except in the coldest weather. [Long running of the furnace at night is improved by using the 110v/12v converter charger.]

I think we’ve had two rainfalls, and one or two very windy days. So the weather is great. If you haven’t bought one you really need to purchase a weather alert radio. We’ve had no severe weather since we bought it. No guarantees, of course — no one would dare jeopardize this delicate affair. But it’s hard to argue with success.

Enjoying Berns Steak House Dessert Room in Tampa FL

Enjoying Berns Steak House Dessert Room in Tampa FL

We drove up to Tampa last Wednesday to attend the RV Supershow (it was soooo huge, I’ll write about it separately) and dined at Berns Steak House. Here’s a picture of Debbie and me, after dinner and a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar, sitting in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room upstairs in Berns. Pretty great.

Let’s summarize. We’re on a level paved lot in a peaceful community away from, but near enough to, a small town with essential services. We are surrounded by, and making friends with, wonderful people from all over North America who choose to be here now.

The weather is near perfect and the days and nights are beautiful. We’re exercising and eating fresh food daily, most of it grown locally. Many days we are walking twice daily. We’re in love and spending wonderful time together, in our very very cool Airstream trailer.

Debbie, pinch me again, so I’ll know this is real!

Happy New Year!

Our site in Ancient Oaks, Okeechobee, FL

Our site in Ancient Oaks, Okeechobee, FL

Debbie and I are enjoying this start to 2009 in Okeechobee, FL. [You can see our location by clicking here] The outside temperature is 75F, lows have been around 60 degrees. Days are sunny and a little windy. Feels good after enjoying fall and 1/2 the winter in North Carolina. Will we do better, in 2009, chasing 75 degrees? This is a good start.

We found a little quiet time for reflecting on our resolutions for this year. These four resolutions are simple and straightforward, so easy for me to remember and honor:

  • 1. Spend less
  • 2. Eat healthier
  • 3. Exercise more
  • 4. Expend fewer non-renewable resources
  • Our New Year’s resolutions are shaded by experiences of the past year. Gas prices and the foundering economy affect our pocketbook greatly. We reviewed 2008 budget vs actual 2008 and, as expected, found gasoline was our major over-budget expense. This increase is due both to high prices and to more miles than budgeted. Although we were within our budget for the year, the review shows us where we can best try to economize.

    More than two months on WBCCI caravans caused more frequent driving days than we would choose for ourselves. When on caravans, we joined our fellow travelers for dining out more than we would on our own. The gatherings are important to us and often, for us, represent fellowship more than fine dining. The least expensive menu choices are more expensive than if you fixed your meal at home. And we can eat healthier at home, in portion size, ingredients selection, and preparation.

    We largely ignored physical fitness throughout much of 2008. We were frequently mobile, relocating a lot and often staying in places one to two weeks. Our home lacks a fitness room and we decided to not carry the 100 pounds of dumbbells we had at the house. A friend, Jerry Hall, showed me a really cool compact dumbbell by Bowflex. I don’t want to pay full-price and might not even need to buy any since I have things of lots of different weights in the truck or we can use fitness rooms in some rv parks. We must choose to take advantage of walking and swimming and resistance exercise opportunities.

    Almost thirty-five years ago I concentrated my university studies in population politics, or how the burgeoning population changes, and is changed by, politics. I was acutely aware of the evils of population increases and the accompanying pressures on non-renewable resources. A few weeks ago I learned of a sort of doomsday book named The Long Emergency, by James Howard Kunstler.

    Kunstler wrote, almost four years ago, of an impending financial crash centered upon the gross misuse of derivatives as investments. Okay, he’s one for one so far. And he writes of the very certain inavailability of petroleum in North America and many other parts of the world. He says petroleum won’t just be expensive but unobtainable. This will cause almost certainly irreversible changes in governments, economies, and quality of life.

    I cannot change the world but I can reduce our impact upon it. We have a small home, few appliances, and are frugal users of things. Our rooftop solar panels seem to provide as much energy as we need during the day and most of what we can use overnight. Our propane-fired water heater runs about ten minutes daily, just enough to heat water for two showers and dishwashing. We think we can, for 2009, reduce our consumption of electricity and gas to less than any sticks and bricks house.

    Our resolutions aren’t remarkable and may not be as definitive as some peoples’. But this is a start for us, as we begin our first full calendar year full-timing in our Airstream trailer. We hope you have a great year and are enjoying this new start.

    Happy New Year!