Letter to the Editor Today 
Another letter to the editor:


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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Quote of the Day 
...from George Will's column yesterday:

The green left understands that the direct route to government control of almost everything is to stigmatize, as a planetary menace, something involved in almost everything -- carbon.

Orwellian, for sure, and although Orwell doesn't explain how Big Brother came to power, I doubt this was how he did. Even Orwell could not have envisioned this route to a "license to intrude."

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Customer Service Done Right  
Cutting the grass on Tuesday evening, dunderhead me forgot to screw the gas cap on the mower* and, thus, it came off and I ran over it, rendering it unusable; shot it across the street, too. I was able to finish the front and then went to Sears Hardware to see if they had a replacement in stock. They didn't. So, the next morning I went to the Sears Service center in Phillipsburg and they didn't have one either. I was about to order one when one of the guys said to hold on and he would check a few old mowers in the back that were going out for scrapping or being held for parts. A minute later he came back with the same cap. I offered to pay for it but he said no. What an excellent example of customer service!

*This is highly odd for me as I tend to be obsessive-compulsive about things like that; doors locked, things that need to be tightened actually being tightened and fastened correctly, pen caps on, closet doors closed, oven off, coffee maker off, efficient refrigerator organization, newspapers neatly stacked before being bundled, money organized by denomination and facing the same way, etc.

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Hawaii Six-O 

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In the Merry Month of May 
...there are blizzard warnings:

...for NW Kansas.

May blizzard shuts down parts of S.D.

Blizzard warning for NE Colorado.

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Lehigh Valley Half Marathon 
I worked communications support today with some members of the amateur radio club at the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and 5K. I was assigned to work the starting line near Allen High School and then go down to last leg before the entrance to J. Birney Crum and the finish line. Our main role was basically to offer radio support in case anyone needed medical attention. Someone could radio net control, which was set up near a medical tent, and then they could take it from there and the pros could send the nearest paramedic out. Only two calls came through from the ham volunteers for medical attention and one was a fisherman who hooked himself. That's not to say others didn't need the medical tents but there were only two incidents that someone needed one of us to radio for medical. Still, it was good we could help. The weather was quite chilly so that was good for the runners as it was unlikely that anyone would overheat.

I had nothing important to radio in but I did get to meet both Congressman Dent and Mayor Pawlowski near the platform at the starting line. I chatted with Hizzoner for a few minutes in some light banter - the demands people put on the mayor, the Iron Pigs, and how the residents at 18th and Linden might enjoy being woken up on Sunday at 8:00 am to the sounds rock music and then a fire truck's siren that starts the runners. After he did his duty to get the race started, I asked him "Yocco's or Willy Joe's?" He responded with a quick "Yoccos" like it was a no-brainer and we shook hands and I wished him a good day.

Speaking of Yocco's, once we were done, some metaphysical force pulled a few of us into Yocco's on Hamilton Blvd. Once again, outstanding; the Hot Dog King reigns supreme over the region.

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Tommy, Can you Hear Me?  
The National Day of Silence is upon us again. Here is my letter to the editor about this, published on 04/16/05 in the Morning Call.

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Rewind to 2000 
I found an Earth Day article from Reason Magazine, May 2000.

Some of the those early earth day activists really made some bold predictions about famine and civilization ending within 30 years that never materialized. But, alas, we can't fault the activists because they were citing scientists. Ah, such wacky times, the seventies were. The next generation or two will find it equally entertaining 30 years from now to reflect back on the balmy prophecies that were made in the first decade of the 21st century. Oh wait, this time it's real. We can't possibly be wrong.

Instead of planting a tree this earth day, I need to save one. One sprouted up in my garden, just inside the fence, last year and I need to move it. The sapling is about six feet high now. I had planted a few trees a few years ago but I couldn't keep them from the deer. I tried but to no avail but this one is tall enough now that it should be safe. Deer truly are a problem in PA and managing them is a contentious issue. I am currently reading Deer Wars which discusses this concern.

Today is also primary day here in PA. I will cast a vote for John McCain today, just as I did in the 2000 primary.

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