Gabby Hayes

During this weekend – February 25 and 26 – I watched two Roy Rogers movies on YouTube. They both were released during my birth year 1937. I saw them when my mother and I lived in Southern California during 1945 and 1949.

I had a job back then. Being the last one to leave the house, I washed breakfast dishes and put them in the cupboard every morning before leaving for school. The pay was twenty-five cents per week. That wasn’t a lot of money, so I spent it carefully. That allowance bought a pair of trousers, a week’s ration of Double Bubble Chewing Gum, and financed the ten-cent admission fee to the Early Bird movie each Saturday morning – Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, and others.

Sometimes the theaters provided perks. About once each month a Wonder Bread wrapper paid my way in. One Saturday morning before the movie a cartoonist illustrated,with an overhead projector, how to draw cartoon faces using number zero through nine. Another time a Duncan YoYo representative demonstrated all the special things that could be done with a YoYo.

We always exited the theater from the balcony and followed a concrete ramp to the street level. It was on this ramp that I heard and then saw my first shoe taps. And then I had one more item to fit into my budget.

Back to the movies:

Nobody but the sheriff and saloon keeper seemed to have jobs. Everyone else was free to play poker or serve on a posse at a moment’s notice. And the poor horses, always tied out front covered every inch of those dusty trails a full gallop.

George “Gabby” Hayes was often Roger’s’ sidekick. I seem to recall he was much younger than the part he played, but like Chester on Gunsmoke, he was a dead eye with a pistol and very capable of manhandling someone half his age. Seventy years later I saw good clean humor in his character.

For Want of A Delete Key

I wonder if a copy of Microsoft Word would have made any difference in my education had there been access to a copy in the 1950s?

Like everyone else back then, I flogged an Underwood upright. It did a fine job for many of my fellow students. For me? Well, had the teacher not been so high-strung, and had I not taken advantage of her flashpoints things might have gone better.
Speed was not her concern. Perfection was. She demanded assignments be done over until they were perfect. And Moving ahead was not an option until that occurred. When I was finally twenty-five pages behind everyone else I’d given up. I knew typing career was over.
“Time is up,” she said, referring to some drill.
I had nothing to lose, so I ripped the paper from the machine rather than rolling it out.
“Get Out!” she shouted, pointing to the door as I approached her desk.
In her opinion my writing days were over. I was finished. But after enlisting in the air force and I had some change in my pocket I bought a Sears portable and taught myself what I could never learn under her critical eye. It was not easy. The typos were waiting to happen.
After receiving a positive response to a query letter to Overdrive Magazine I polished my ten-page story by pencil. Then I retyped it – with carbons – eleven times before I thought it would pass the editor’ critical eye.
In the grueling process I developed a new respect for authors like Harrison Salisbury who used a small portable for 40 years.
I sold the story.
But had Microsoft Word been available for me … well, you know the answer to that.

Where’s They Go?

It’s Saturday morning all is quiet. Everyone who was scheduled to be somewhere is gone. Those who didn’t have a schedule have yet to show their faces.

The trucks out on the highway are not running. The fisherman with boats in tow have yet to appear.

Perhaps Barb and I are the Omega People

Steve Bannon

I’m glad he finally ditched that army field jacket. I’m also glad he borrowed a tie from someone. Now if he would only get a haircut.

In the end, however, I think it’s difficult to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

Cool facts about 7 Earth-size planets circling single star.

(022217)  This artist's concept appeared on the Feb. 23, 2017 cover of the journal Nature announcing that the TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. Any of these planets could have liquid water on them. Planets that are farther from the star are more likely to have significant amounts of ice, especially on the side that faces away from the star. The system has been revealed through observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) telescope, as well as other ground-based observatories. The system was named for the TRAPPIST telescope. (Photo Courtesy of NASA/JPL - Caltech)

(022217)
This artist’s concept appeared on the Feb. 23, 2017 cover of the journal Nature announcing that the TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. Any of these planets could have liquid water on them. Planets that are farther from the star are more likely to have significant amounts of ice, especially on the side that faces away from the star.
The system has been revealed through observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) telescope, as well as other ground-based observatories. The system was named for the TRAPPIST telescope.
(Photo Courtesy of NASA/JPL – Caltech)

Yahoo News

This article was featured on Yahoo News today. I find that interesting, almost an answer to a question I’ve harbored most of my life. I wondered about visiting the other planets. But until we began depleting the resources we have here, the notion of moving never crossed my mind. Just during the past few months NASA got on board. If such a thing ever came to pass who would go – the young, the geniuses, the physically fit?

Not everyone would qualify to participate. What about those couldn’t go? Would those left here to live out their years on a burned out hulk?

Who would decide?

Once Upon A Time

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Photo from the Internet

When our kids were growing we took them to the Chambers Street Medical Clinic. The architect of the building had been environmentally conscious of his task and built it without disturbing a stand of oak where a few families of squirrels lived. Over the span of 18 or 20 years several generations of squirrels came and went. But one thing remained the same, the the small pharmacy attached to the clinic always kept a store of peanuts for them. The squirrels had access to this store each time the door was opened. For years I watched the parade. Finally, one day, a squirrel was waiting for someone to open the door. My turn had come. I pushed the door open, but the squirrel didn’t move. He just looked at me. “You’re opening door the wrong way. You have to pull it open,” he pharmacist said from behind the counter. I followed his directions. The squirrel scampered inside, chose a peanut and then then headed for the trees.

Signs of the Anasazi

QRP The Hard Way

I tuned my radio to 14.060 MHZ then held my breath while listening in the headphones.  Instead of copying Leo, KB7LOC, I heard what sounded like the War of the Worlds soundstage.  But what should I expect on this frequency in the middle of the night?  My being here was no chance event, but rather the result of carefully laid plans that might never produce a single positive result.
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In April 1999 Barb, KC7BSY and myself, N7NET, traveled from Oregon to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and rented a comfortable spot to pause.
Many folks arriving at such desert locations search for stout walking sticks, large water bottles, and perhaps wide-brimmed hats.  For us radio people, however, digging-in means configuring VHF and HF radio stations.  While Barb doesn’t share my CW enthusiasm, she enjoys two-meter radio and has more than once conducted the local two-meter traffic net when the NCS fails to show.
Our adventure began in earnest after purchasing a used fifth-wheel trailer.  It came furnished with pots and pans, dishes, and silverware.  Located more than a mile from the nearest power grid meant we had top generate our own power.
With limited funds, our final choice consisted of a single 75-watt solar panel and two 6-volt, deep-cycle flooded batteries wired to provide a 12-volt power source.  Only then was it time to consider a radio.
My old Swan 400, still in Oregon, had served me well during the ’91 Gulf War but it was a power hog.  The new radio would have to be solid-state.  After a day of searching the Internet at the Ajo City Library, I chose an MFJ-9420 transceiver with a CW board.  And a G5RV wire antenna from AES in Las Vegas which completed the system.
MFJ reviews claimed there is no hotter receiver available. The speech processor on SSB is no slouch either.  During the hours of midday sun the output to the coax measured just shy of nine-watts.  It was enough signal to fetch sideband QSLs across North America, including Hawaii and Alaska. After sunset the power output reduced to a needles-width greater than five, close enough to qualify for QRP.  Then, as though Leo had his ear to ground, Barb copied his message off the National Traffic System.
“It’s from Leo, KB7LOC.  He wants to do some CW QRP,” she said.
Leo and I both attended tech school at Keesler AFB, Mississippi during 1956 – 1957. After school he went to an early warning radar site atop a Nevada mountain. I went to Charleston AFB, South Carolina. We didn’t meet again until 1991 during the Gulf War while we both served in Oregon Army MARS. The reunion was mind boggling.
QRP? Not a problem, I thought.  His QTH, Seal Rock, Oregon, some seventeen hundred miles to the north-northwest will be a walk in the park for this little hummer.
“So, how are we going to do this QRP?” I asked him over the payphone.
“I want to try out my newly acquired, gently used HW-8. I teach guitar and Wednesday evening is my only free time. How’s your schedule?” he asked.
He pauses upon learning the only rig I owned is a 20-meter mono-bander. “Well, it doesn’t sound hopeful, but let’s give it a shot.  I’ll call you every Wednesday starting at seven, my time.  I’ll continue sending for one minute. If you don’t respond I’ll continue every quarter-hour on 14.060 plus or minus QRM.  If we haven’t connected by eight I’ll secure my station until the following Wednesday.”
We began.
It was QRP the hard way, his one-watt and my five passing in the night.  After several Wednesdays the escapade took on a flavor of hopelessness, but we labored on.
One night I heard his suffix, a squeaking LOC. His frequency is too high, sounding more like an Irish penny whistle than a Hot Water Eight.  Catching my breath, I listen with all the strength I can muster.  Then KB7LOC finds its way through the dark. I issued him a signal report of 224.  He sent me a 335.  Then he’s gone, vanishing into the night like a wisp of cigar smoke.
Highlights of our second contact have escaped me.  His QSL card is my only proof it ever occurred.
Our third time the band is filled wall-to-wall with atmospheric noises.  I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Apocalypses Now.  Leo reports my signal as a perfect 599.  His signal, however, is heterodyning with another station that’s dead on. The echoes and ringing are reminiscent of a carrier fresh in from the Polar Region. I send him a 221, and I think that is generous.
 Three contacts were our grand total for the winter of 2000.  We should have tried harder for more QSOs.  But neither of us foresaw the future.
In September 2007 Leo became a Silent Key, taking with him all our chances of another marathon.
His will left the HW-8 to me.  It needs work.  The band switches probably need cleaning. When I’m finished using it I’ll be casting about for someone with good ears who is interested in doing QRP the hard way.

Trump

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In my years on Earth I don’t recall a more hateful person taking the Office of President than Donald Trump. Is it because while growing up he never had to deal with the word NO? Or is he unable to shed his negative attitude? Whatever the case, he doesn’t seem to play well with others.

During my period of active military service I witnessed many commanding officers taking over squadrons to which I was assigned. Some laid back to witness the situation before they began making changes. Others set about reinventing the wheel on day one. The ones who didn’t wait until they had a feel for their new responsibility seldom occupied the commander’s office for any respectable length of time.

Many years ago someone stated that presidents took the office bringing many different viewpoints. But by the time they had served their term they shared many of their predecessor’s views.

If this statement holds true for Trump he has some distance to travel before he resembles anyone I can recall.

Please Meet Patches

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About a week ago I spotted an abandoned puppy taking shelter beneath a building at the nearby volunteer firehouse.

I’m an easy mark, I guess, so I took the dog home because she didn’t have anyone else who cared. We entertained hopes that the local animal shelter or the vet could help find a home for her. But she has not been that fortunate yet.

So we provide food, water and shelter while enjoying her kisses and her loyalty.