Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth

Independence Day, and I don't mean the movie, although there were aspects of the movie that were special to me -- when ham radio operators sent the president's message around the world via Morse code (CW to hams) -- always stirs me. I am a Yankee Doodle Dandy and my heart beats faster when I hear the national anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance. My spine tingles when Americans are at their best and riding to the rescue. I'm a flag waving, honest to goodness patriot. Today, of all days, I am definitely proud to be an American, but I am proud to be an American each and every day even when Americans are being idiots or being shown at their worst. Why? Because America is the only country on earth where freedom and honor mean something. Freedom and honor have become obscured in the past few years by events in the international arena, and certainly by the media around the world and here at home, but freedom and honor have never been more obvious than in the aftermath of 9/11 when all differences and difficulties were set aside and Americans pitched in and worked side by side, grieved side by side, stood side by side, arms linked, to show the world we will not be defeated.

We have lost a bit of that fervor and solidarity, but it's all still there at the heart and soul of every American and will come back to the surface when it's needed. Count on it.

Well, I didn't expect that to be the topic of discussion. All I wanted to do was wish everyone a happy Independence Day. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing stop and give thanks for being allowed to live in America -- the land of the free and the home of the brave. Bless the USA by whatever religious beliefs you choose, but bless the USA indeed.

Last night the landlady invited me down for an impromptu cookout and get together. Psycho Ken and his wife Pam and dog park friend Robin were there as well. Add Nel and me and you had a lovely group of friendly, talkative and enjoyable people. It was also the first time I met Pam about whom I have heard so much. She is a lovely lady and quite interesting -- as were the many different conversations going on last night. Good food, good conversation and good people. There is nothing better in life. We're cooking out again today and last night I trundled off to the grocery store to buy steaks. I hope someone else remembered to get the corn on the cob. Vegetables and fruits we have in abundance.

Yesterday was also the day a very close friend came back from a 5-day backpacking trip along the Colorado Trail. I'm sure he enjoyed getting out there and being free and unencumbered by nothing more than his thoughts and his pack. I wish I had been with him, but I wasn't invited this time. I was with him in spirit and, yes, I would have walked in his wake to enjoy the view because he has a great back field, when it's in motion or when he's standing and looking out a window. He does have the sexiest behind and I still don't know how he knows I feel that way because I never told him. I guess my excuses for walking upstairs behind him were more transparent than I knew. And I'd like to thank him for walking so slowly so I could have a good long look.

Just in case he's wondering though, he also has a great front view with a broad chest and just the right amount of furry covering, great eyes and some killer legs. He is my idea of a hunk: tall and well built with a melt my knees and make my heart flutter smile.

Anyway, I signed up for the emergency communications course given by the ARRL and it starts in August and goes until October. I will actually get CECs (continuing education credits) for the course. I have the book already and I have to dig that out (good thing I have time to do that) and after I finish the first course I'll move on to the second and third. After that, I'm certain I can find something to learn and will most likely focus on antennas, propagation and electronics. I have a hungry mind that has starved for too long. Time to feast.

In addition to that, I got the Code Quick program and I'm going to refresh the CW I haven't used since I passed my exam and got my Extra license and increase my code receiving abilities. I want to get to 20-30 WPM by the end of summer. I'll even settle for the middle of fall, but I'm determined to get there. I am working on an antenna that will satisfy my needs and not irritate my landlady or disturb her aesthetic expectations so I can spend more time on the air working CW and racking up a few QSOs with a few QSL cards to go with them. (In layman's terms, making contacts and giving and receiving acknowledgment of those contacts) All the while I'll be building my own radio and using it to operate on short hikes away from the hustle and bustle (yeah, we hustle and bustle a little now and again here on the laid back west side of town). I'm also taking my sketch pad and pencils and maybe once in a while my laptop, depending on what I grab when I leave for the day. I need to get some use out of the new Nike cross trainers and get some mud on the sides.

In the meantime, I am late for breakfast and the fruit is calling me. I have a busy day ahead of me and I still need to drop off the steaks to the landlady for marinating. I'm also making my bleu cheese sauce for the steaks and looking forward to a bit of a feast before 7 PM tonight when we head off to Soda Springs Park to listen to a ham friend's band. It's a holiday after all and I intend to make the most of every single second -- even if that does include doing the laundry.

That is all. Disperse to your own Independence Day activities.

As for my family, don't eat before I get there.

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