Geek’s Halloween.

Saturday, I was supposed to go to a Halloween party in the evening. Instead, I spent the whole day being a ham radio geek. I did get to go out to breakfast with my friend Greg and the waitress flirted with me, but that was the only non-geeky part of the day.

This weekend was the CQ World Wide DX Contest. That means all the big geek ham radio contesters (the hams with the really big towers, and lots of them) were all on the radio trying to talk to as many countries as they could. I played with my own pathetic little radio for a while, but on Saturday I went up to a friend’s house to play with his radio.

Let’s compare. Here’s my antenna:

If you look very carefully, you’ll see a vertical antenna on the garage, and the 10M quad on the roof.

Here’s a picture of Brad’s towers:

If you look carefully, you’ll see a second tower in the background, and both towers have stacks of antennas on them.

I’m not an experienced operator, so I mostly just hung around. I have a couple of blurry pictures of people running the radios. The first is Jim, KI7Y, the President of the Willamette Valley DX Club at the secondary station.

Here’s Denis, K7GK, and John, KL2A at the main station.

You’ll see the big radio usually towards the right side, and a large computer screen where people keep track of who they’re talking to. As a comparison, I could call until I was blue in the face — up to fifteen minutes — trying to get a guy in the Carribean to hear me, but at Brad’s it would just take one or two calls to get all the way into central China, almost halfway around the world.

Anyway, it was fun. I think the furthest I got was Macau and Finland, and with the scoring I made about 2000 points. While I was at Brad’s, they had about 2,000,000 points, and that was only halfway through the contest.

So, I missed the Halloween party, and as I expected, the kids at the door were my whole Halloween experience. We had 84 kids here from 5:20 until 8PM when I ran out of candy (full bags of M&M’s or Skittles). I think my sister said she had 263 down in Paso Robles, CA, and she also ran out of candy.

The only comments I get are SPAM.

Well, not quite, but most of the comments I get seem to be comment spam. And I’d say all the email I get from “women” are either offers for a mortgage, drugs, or just my sister pestering me about fixing her web site. I mean, she’s had it up for a year or something and she’s had almost a quarter of a million hits. All my web sites combined, including the one for the ham radio club, probably get 0.1% of that sort of attention.

Well, I don’t do all that much that’s interesting. Unless you consider a constant progression downhill to be interesting.

OK, so this isn’t interesting either. I have to think of something to write about earlier than just before I go to sleep.

Yet another way to make myself irresistible.

I think I may have volunteered to be an officer of the ham radio club. I know that’s going to get me all the chix. I better start making a sign-up list somewhere. I bet if I use my 3l33t coding sk1llz and put it on the web, I will be even more irresistible.

I better come home and watch TV Friday night. Who knows what trouble I’ll find otherwise.

I forgot to mention I saw an old classmate.

He’s ex-Marine, very conservative, and in his second round of interviews for a job with the FBI. I asked him to let me know if he was tracking aliens, then I realized that if I buy into the whole alien conspiracy theory thing, it’s all a government secret and he can’t tell me a thing.

Man, I miss the X-Files.

How about them Red Sox? 🙂

Once again, I got nothing.

Work late (basically watching a guy taking apart a laptop) and watch baseball. Not much interesting about that. The most interesting parts of the day are probably the walk to work (through a semi-industrial area to avoid traffic), the walk back (when it was POURING), trips to the coffee shop (downstairs), and lunch (Wazwan, a shop that’s usually in a Food court, but just happens to be a standalone shop on our block). So nothing much.

I really wanted to go to a haunted house, this year. I have less than a week left and it sounds creepy to go by myself. I even wait for movies like “Toy Story” to come out on DVD, unless I can drag someone else to go see them. I figure it’s OK to be a creepy old guy watching the latest Star Trek or something, but not kids movies.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but it looks like my Halloween festivities might be limited to handing out candy.

Get out and vote.

So today, on the way to work, I saw a homeless guy with a giant sign that said, “HONK IF YOU HATE BUSH.” As I walked by him, he waggled the sign at me. I told him, “I’d honk if I could,” and he gave me a huge smile.

When I went to the ham radio swap meet on Saturday, I saw a friend of mine who gave me his card for speed dating. I guess he’s the local coordinator. My co-workers think I’ll just effectively annoy people in the alloted time, and they’re probably right.

So even though nobody cares, I bought some teeth whitening strips to try and get the coffee stains off my teeth. At least the guy at the drugstore gave me a discount.

Perhaps I need a new wireless plan.

I helped a friend of mine troubleshoot some simple computer problems and the call was 1:02:03. Good thing it was on my weekend minutes. Even better, her computer works the way she wants it to (I think).

Only other bad thing is that my cell phone batteries are about dead now. I wonder how long you’re supposed to be able to talk on the thing before it dies.

I hate Windows.

And the tyranny it imposes. So I got my gadget (and boy does it take crummy pictures) but downloading the pictures required playing with several different computers. Most of my computers are legacy devices, well, they’re really just junk that my friends no longer wanted. Getting them to work is sometimes a chore. Most of the time I just run NetBSD or something on them and I have no problem, but when I need to run Windows, it’s a real pain.

I had to run Windows to get the files off of my new Olympus W-10 toy since it’s not Mac compatible. Here’s a picture of my neighbor’s house with a blue tarp on it:

You can’t even see the blue tarp that he has to keep the water out of his house while it’s being renovated.

And here’s one of a fountain:

I barely manipulated the levels of the pictures. I didn’t expect them to be very good, and they’re not. But it’s really for recording notes, and her’s a recording done at “HQ” (high) quality.

Sure beats showing you the junk I got at the ham radio show ($170 worth of cables and connectors.)

It’s all for my sister.

I had to go to three travel sites, enter in flight information repeatedly, and call up two credit card companies, all so I could buy my sister’s plane ticket so she can come up and annoy my father. My mother is leaving for Japan, and I can’t do it all on my own. OK, so one of the credit card company calls was to cancel an EBay MasterCard I got so my sister would have more points towards her Free iPod. According to Wired, you can actually get a free iPod if you bully five your friends in to joining and signing up for things. Of course, I’m not above mentioning my own Free iPod referral link.

Woo, there were some attractive women at the gym today. I like making up background stories about them and imagining what their names are. Reality is seldom as interesting, especially since most women seem to already be in relationships, and they could have something terribly wrong about them, like being on parole for swindling elderly people out of their money, or being Republican, or not being intelligent, or being religious, or voting for Nader. You know, the big things that could seriously kill a relationship. It’s more interesting to think they’re all well-read, interested in me, and not obsessed with something like knitting. (Heh.) More realistically, that they’re not put off by a guy with a dozen computers and a ham radio hobby.

Oh, well. My friend Il told me that there are serious Republicans who are twisting John Edwards’ words into saying, “I, John Edwards, believe John Kerry is a faith healer.” He’s seen web sites from those very Republicans and it has him in a tizzy. I told him to calm down. It’s just the intarweb. Heck, I have a web site that purports that I am a sane person.

Anyway, I’m off to imagine that one of the women at the gym is named Alice.

Perhaps another web scam?

My sister is coming to town and she found the cheapest flights using I tried to pay for her ticket, but I didn’t have her frequent flier number, and she wasn’t answering the phone because she was busy watching the stupid TV. “Oh, I had to watch Lost and West Wing.” Well, in the time between 8PM and 10PM when her stupid shows were over, the web site has deteriorated. First, it wouldn’t let me pay for the ticket, then it wouldn’t render. It’s slowly coming back to life.

So I started looking up on the internet. Searching google, I found that as recently as July of 2001, was being called an “INTERNET AIRFARE SWINDLE!!!” on misc.consumers on the usenet. Most recently, they sold email addresses to “affiliates” leading to more unwanted commercial email (UCE, or spam in simpler terms).

Anyway, I have to pay for her frigging ticket, so I figure I get to complain. We’ll see if will let me buy the tickets.

An old, dirty joke from my boss.

Little Johnny was in his 4th grade class when the teacher asked what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up: fireman, cop, salesman. Johnny was being rather quiet so the teacher asked him about his father.

“My father is an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes, if there’s a really good offer, he’ll go out to the alley with some guy and make love for money.”

The teacher hurriedly set the other children to work on some coloring, and took Little Johnny aside to ask, “Is that really true about your father?

“No,” said Johnny, “He plays for the New York Yankees, but I was too embarassed to say so.”

Go Red Sox.


So my sister got me a birthday present and it’s STILL backordered. I don’t really know if the Griffin RadioShark even exists! It’s like a TiVo for the radio and I’m waiting for it for months, obviously, since my birthday was in April.

I wonder if it will arrive before the latest gadget I bought myself. I spent three $25 Amazon reward certificates on a silly voice recorder and cheesy camera combo. Nothing like baseball, football, and toys to keep my mind off of politics.