Google Sucks 
Anti-Obama == Spamblog? Well according to Google, it seems.

From Newsbusters: Google Shuts Down Anti-Obama Sites on its Blogger Platform

But in Google's defense, they are a business and they can do what they want. The problem is, however, that too many people, especially younger people, are overdependent on Google for their information. The attitude seems to be that if Google can't find it, it doesn't exist. And, hey, "they only censor in China at the request of the Chinese government, they wouldn't dare filter results right here in the good ol' USA..."

Riiiiiiight.

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Yaesu FT-450AT 
I decided on the Yaesu FT-450AT and purchased one. It was delivered today. I read though the manual and then hooked it up.

Some thoughts:

1. SWR comes in a little higher than on my Dad's Icom 746. The Icom was about 1.5:1. The reading on my Yaesu is about 2:1 with the same antenna. A 1:1 SWR is perfect, even if rarely achieved.
2. Don't like the fact that the microphone was made in China. Thankfully, the radio was made in Japan. Once Motorola's hand gets stronger into Vertex-Standard, I am sure more and more manufacturing will be moved there. I hate Motorola. Motorola just bought a huge share (80%) of Vertex-Standard, which is Yaesu's parent company. I wonder if they will ruin VS like they have ruined themselves.
2a. The microphone is too big and it doesn't have UP/DN buttons to adjust frequency like the standard Icom mikes do.
3. The hidden menu still works on mine. Press and hold ATT/IPO-NB-AGC and then turn it on. Then, turn DSP/SEL and adjust LEDINT1, LEDINT2, and LEDINT3 accordingly. I now have a teal display. I would highly recommend not altering anything else in there.
4. The main tuning knob is too small. It's about the diameter of a fifty-cent piece.
5. My first contact was with a guy near Panama City, FL, so it seems to work. I hope I can still hit the far western states like Colorado, Utah, and California like I could on the 746. Since the antenna is unchanged, I don't see why not, even if the SWR is a shade higher.

Overall, so far so good. I am just learning how to adjust settings to my liking. I will miss the Icom 746, though.

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Firefox 3 Download Day 
Download Day

Today is Firefox 3 Download Day. So, go ahead and download. I will download it at least three times myself. I haven't even tried the RC's for 3 yet but I will download it for my main desktop (Slackware, of course), the XP side of my wife's laptop, and a copy to keep on my flash drive so I can install it as needed.* I'll likely update the Slackware side of the laptop, too, once I give it a go on my main desktop. Jumping from 2.0.0.14 to 3 is a major version leap and apparently worthy of a full version number increment; going from Gecko rendering engineversion 1.8 to 1.9. From what I've heard, FF3 is less of a memory hog than FF2, even though I never really noticed a problem myself. Memory hog or not, it's still better (as was the case with Netscape, Mozilla, and is with Sea Monkey) than that piece of crap, bane of the Web, Internet Exploiter. And if you're using Internet Exploiter, why? Why? Why? Why?

*Not counting the download (FF3RC3 is a 7.1 MB download for Windows), install on a Windows machine takes less than 45 seconds and doesn't require a reboot. I have sat through an IE6 to IE7 update. It takes several minutes, I seem to recall around five which is after the 70MB download (that's right, almost 10x FF3RC3), and requires a reboot. What a joke.

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Veep 
The race is on for a V.P. for both Obama and McCain. I don't think Hillary will be Obama's choice and if that's the case, he can't pick a woman at all. This is where McCain can make a bold move - select a woman as a running mate. Since Obama cannot choose a woman unless she's Hillary, he's in a bind. McCain has some play here and it might work for him if he does it right. However, does he choose a conservative woman to bring back some of the conservatives or does he stay moderate and try to win over the unhappy pro-Clinton women who may not vote for Obama? Hard to say. I don't think a McCain-Clinton ticket is likely but it would be interesting. He would likely loose more conservative votes this way but may win a lot of the Hillary backers, men and woman, with this move. I think both candidates are waiting to see who blinks first, too, in order to offer a strong counter to the other's pick.

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World War II Weekend 
I went to the World War II Weekend Air Show at the Reading airport yesterday. Good show, as usual, and one day I will book a flight on the Yankee Lady. At $425 a pop, it's pricey. A friend of mine did it a few years ago and, as expected, he said it was just awesome.

I got to chat for a few minutes with Mike Kuryla, a survivor of the USS Indianapolis. He spent five days and four nights in the water in a small, 8-10 person raft. If you're not familiar with the Indianapolis, I would recommend reading Abandon Ship! by Richard F. Newcomb. Mr. Kuryla lives in Illinois and doesn't care for the sea; even the smell of it bothers him. Mr. Kuryla is also the first person I have ever met who has drunk sea water mixed with oil. I cannot even begin to imagine how horrible that whole ordeal was. He also said there are 77 living of the original 316 survivors of the Indianapolis.

The weather was favorable, hot, and I like it hot; 93F is fine by me. Last year it was nice but on the day I could go, rain moved in. Two years ago, we got a clunker weekend; cloudy and rain and temperatures barely getting to 60. So, it was good to go for the first time in a few years.

I posted some pictures here. Some have information in the header, some do not.

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Economics 101 
The New Supreme Maxim of Economics:

"If U.S. unemployment increases to a level that is still historically low, then the price of oil and gasoline must immediately increase to record levels, the DJIA must drop 3%, and experts will insist that the economy is in tatters."

From a McClatchy Newspapers article:

The U.S. economy entered dangerous new terrain Friday as the unemployment rate notched its highest monthly jump in 22 years...


Since when is 5.5% unemployment "dangerous new terrain?" They act like we've never seen that number before. If people has this current mindset 75 years ago, we would have destroyed ourselves by 1940. This kind of terminology gives testimony to the strength and wisdom of those who lived through the Great Depression.

Let's put this in perspective. In April, 95/100 people who wanted to and were able to work, were working. In May, that number fell to 94.5/100. Oh. My. God. Get with it people, we are talking a difference of 0.005. Ho. Lee. Shit. Things must be horrible. People nation-wide must be standing in soup lines and children must be sharing one pair of shoes with their siblings*.

Yes, a half-percent spike in unemployment is not good news, but it is not unheard of. This may be hard to believe due to the tone of the article but in 1980, we had successive jumps of .6% - March 6.3, April 6.9, May 7.5. In 1974 we saw the same thing - 6% in October, 6.6 in November and 7.2 in December. If a jump to 5.5% is bleak, a jump from 6 to 7.2 in three months must be the end of the world. It wasn't, of course, and if those asshole speculators and traders or whoever cries wolf at this news would stop panicking whenever there is a blip on the radar, maybe things would be a little better. We're in this loop of a self-fulfilling prophecy and by merely thinking that things aren't good, we make them worse. Show a little optimism (almost impossible because of the US media whose standing order number one is never say anything good about the economy while Dubya is in office) and maybe things will take a turn for the better. We have it so good and yet we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by yelling "recession" every time there's a hiccup.

People in the 1930's and 40's certainly would not have been able to cope with all this. Yes. Think of them. Dropping out of school at 15 to work in non air-conditioned silk mills. They never had time to think about how "bleak" things were. Oh wait, maybe they did. After all, one has a lot of time to think when standing in mile-long soup lines.

The media needs to put on lid on it and stop spinning this web of gloom and doom.



*A neighbor of my grandmother once told me that this wasn't unusual in the 30's. My grandmother, of course, backed this up.

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The Heat is On 
Whoa, nellie! We are getting an early heat wave. Forecast highs for the next four days are: 95, 95, 95, and 90. I wonder if we will hit these numbers or not. Past personal observations point to that when we get our first heat wave of the year, temperatures usually miss the mark by a few degrees.

I am also awaiting the first blaming of this on global warming; especially since heat waves never happened before 01/20/01. We very well may set record high temperatures so I wonder what they called it, for example, when today's record high of 98 was set in 1925?

I am also reminded of how I use regional cold spells as proof that global warming is not happening. But when some blowhard uses a regional heat wave to prove global warming, it's taken as absolute proof. Never mind that we are both using the same test subject in the sample. Claims by the global warming zealots are always taken as truth, no matter how selective the data is.

Also, this will be fun to see people wither and melt and blast their a/c and then complain about how much a gallon of gasoline, or energy in general, costs. Our air conditioner is still wrapped in the winterizing plastic and I have no plans on unsealing it. I will, however, take the room air conditioner down from the attic and put it in the kids' room. I can take the heat but one year-olds need to be babied. Too bad so many adults need to be babied too.

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Letter to the Editor Today 
Another letter to the editor:

[Link]

They edited it slightly, too. The last line originally read: "Let us all join in unison and walk with pride!"

And the irony is that 64 years ago today, steel made at that plant was likely incorporated into vehicles, airplanes, weapons, ships, and other items and being carried across the English Channel and onto French soil.

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It Works! 
A few days ago I helped my dad set up a 20 meter dipole antenna at my house. He did most of the work like the actual construction, soldering, and drilling through the wall. I chipped in with tying the ends down one on the chimney and one on a tree. Getting on the roof was easy, I do it about a dozen times a year to clean leaves from the gutters (oh, joy!) but I had to climb the tree for the other end and I was probably about 35 feet up. The best part is that I'll have to redo it because the ends are connected by regular nylon rope. The antenna itself is about 33' in length so we needed to use rope to support it on the ends to the chimney and tree. The rope doesn't affect the antenna's performance directly but it will give way over time so I will have to find something less susceptible to the elements and a little stronger to hold it up.

Once everything was in place outside, we connected the ground wire to the house ground and then the antenna feedline to the Icom 746. Last night I made my first contact. I spoke with a guy in Virginia Beach and he gave me a "5-6 over the noise" report which is good. Receiving seems a little noisy yet but it appears transmitting is good. As play with the radio's settings and make more contacts and get signal reports, I'll get a better idea of what radio settings are optimal and how well the antenna performs.

Update: Worked a guy from the Orkney Islands (Scotland); he told me I was 5-5.

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First Quarterly Decline in GDP in Five Years 
...in Canada.

The article is an interesting read because of the sense of optimism the Canadian press has; optimism that U.S. press never reports when it comes to our economy. The article also contrasts conditions in Canada to those in the US. For example, the article says that in the the US "unemployment is climbing." Stats from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the latest published unemployment rate is 5.0% which is a whopping increase over the 4.9% we saw in January but down from the 5.1% we saw in March. The article also mentions Canada's low unemployment - which is 6.1%, and an increase from March. If we hit a 6.1% unemployment rate in the U.S. before 01/20/09, the press would tell us that things are worse now than they were in 1935.

Even with a quarter of negative growth, the experts the article cites shun the word 'recession.' In the U.S., we've been in a recession [sic] for about a year; even though the we have not been. Just in case we never hit a recession, the press is now touting that we may very well have a recession without having a recession. They'll do anything to avoid saying anything positive about the U.S economy.

I know things aren't perfect but this being an election year, the press will surely do all they can to tout the bad news and suppress the good, at least until November.

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Hold the Line 
This morning I tipped the scales at 20 pounds less than I was on January 3rd. I might actually hit -21 or -22 this morning yet because I don't eat breakfast; except for one or two days a month or when I'm away on vacation, breakfast is coffee only. Dinner between 6 and 7 and then nothing until after 11 the next morning is the norm for me and has been the norm for about 20 years. I've really been holding steady at about -16 to -18 for the past month but the past week I've picked it up and really watched my diet and kept up the amount of exercise I've been doing. Now, I have to hold onto my losses. I've been pretty good about exercising and getting in either a 1.5 to 2 mile walk or a 5-8 mile bike ride in five days a week. Dietetically, I haven't really changed too much. I think if I cut down the number of calories I consume and imbibe I could hold down the losses easier. Speaking of imbibe, I drink coffee (morning), water (throughout the day), juice (one glass), and beer (2 a day, night only). I stay away from soda. Soda is nothing more than easy weight gain in a can or bottle. Yes, beer is too but beer tastes better and might actually be better for you than soda in some regards. I think a lot of people only focus on what they eat and not what they drink when it comes to watching diet. What you drink, or don't, is just as important.

So, I need to keep on keeping on and see if I can knock another five pounds down. If I make -25 that would put me at a weight I haven't seen since around 1990.

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Memorial Day 
"What with making their way and enjoying what they have won, heroes have no time to think. But the sons of heroes -- ah, they have all the necessary leisure."

- Aldous Huxley

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