Random 411: The Wonderful World of Amateur Radio

One summer my family was thinking of camping up in the mountains. It’s a beautiful campsite, a popular campsite, but it’s remote. Cellular phones don’t work up there and there is only one place with a landline. This got me thinking about alternate modes of communication. If I can’t use my cell phone and I’m nowhere near a land line, is there any other way to communicate? Any other way to send for help that doesn’t include a whistle or a handheld mirror?

Enter Amateur Radio.

There are so many websites, blog posts, YouTube videos on the subject that I feel bad adding to that mounds of information. However, I’ve heard so many comments like “you can just text” or “well, my phone has GPS.” In fact, someone scoffed at me when I mentioned having a Technician Class license and said: “with the internet and all the advances in technology, you wasted your time getting one.” Usually, I shrug my shoulders with a smile and say something like “well, I am a geek” and walk away. To each his own, you know? 

Well, I just sat through an Emergency Preparedness Seminar. I was reminded that on an island with around 70,000 people–90,000 if you count the visitor population–there are only about 200 first responders/firefighters and about another 200 police officers. If you add the AMR workforce you add around  50 more hands on deck. That is only 450 trained emergency professionals servicing possibly 90,000 people. This doesn’t include the military personnel that’s also stationed on the island, but still, we’re talking 90,000 people. I was also reminded that if you take the worse case scenario and there has been damage to the main infrastructure, it could take up to seven days for outside aid to come in. We’ve been encouraged to build an emergency kit with supplies for 14 days.

What does this have to do with Amateur Radio?  

That’s just it. That’s my point. On an island that is about a five-hour commercial flight to mainland USA, it’s scary to think I cannot call for help. Ninety-thousand people texting and/or calling on their cellular phone. I know technology has come a long way, but again, if you take the worse case scenario and, say, hurricane force winds knocked down two cell towers I may not be able to use my cell phone to call for help. I didn’t want that limitation and/or restriction. 

And while I can charge my radio by an electrical outlet, I can also convert my battery pack to use AA batteries which extend the life of communication and not reliant on electricity.

It may not be for everyone. You need a license and to get a license you need to pass an exam. The exam is 35 questions in which 26 of them needs to be answered correctly. Questions on frequency and FCC regulations. But for someone who can be a sitting duck if the worse happens, having the license and ability to communicate with others is worth the $15 admin fee (volunteers administer the test so you’re only paying for the cost of administering the test, not paying the volunteers, just to make things clear) and $30 for a radio. I don’t need to rely on infrastructure. I can help others who don’t have a license and looking for their family. It makes me think of a saying someone once said to me, “I’d rather carry it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

I have a Technicians license that, I admit, I’ve rarely put to use, but the point is I have it.

And it’s good for ten years.

And since I have it, I can learn all that I want to amateur radio. 

And now that I’ve been reminded how valuable that skill set could be in times of need, I’ll be studying to upgrade my license to a General class this year. 

Cheers to no restrictions and the opportunity to be self-reliant (in terms of communicating of course)!

And at the very least it’s another way to connect with others on a global scale 😉.

There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.

Stephen King


What to post, what to post: June ramblings

I have read 32 books out of 60 for my GoodReads goal. Five books ahead of schedule. I’ve watched several movies that I can review, including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. So why am I having such a hard time posting?

I guess my head is stuffed to the gills (I chuckled just now. I mean, chuckled? That doesn’t sound right. Scoffed? Snickered? Yeah, more like I just snickered. That’s better). Two sides are competing for attention. The academic side and the entertainment junkie side. I can’t seem to snap out of the academic side. I guess it’s all those research papers I’ve written. I’m thinking about all the what-ifs history provides, especially now that I’m transitioning from Russian History into Viking History. 

 I can’t seem to snap out of the academic side. I guess it’s all those research papers I’ve written. I’m thinking about all the what-ifs history provides, especially now that I’m transitioning from Russian History into Viking History. I want to fill my time chasing down these what-ifs and if I’m not going to do research on it, I want to get lost in a book. It’s just been so interesting.

I hear you whispering: Such a geek. You don’t have to tell me. 

And boring! Well now, that’s subjective.

And now I get to choose a research topic I want to explore for my Viking History research paper final. How awesome is that? Right after researching the Muscovite Law Code of 1649 I get to explore the judicial system of the Vikings. Not that that’s going to be my research topic but I am considering it.

To be honest, the only television show I’ve successfully kept up with is Scorpion and I’m behind two episodes. Yes, yes. I haven’t watched the season finale yet. Again. Weekly research papers. 

Excuses, excuses. A blogger finds the time! 

I have spent some time thinking about what to post. I’m not just researching and stuff. I’ve been kind of combing through past posts and finding what I like and what was liked. It’s interesting to see how things have progressed. I mean, I jumped into the blogosphere just because. I went from random things to deciding on reviews to questioning reviews back to reviews and then just random things. All rolled up into one blog with the title of Information Junkie.

Plus, it’s June. The middle of 2017 is coming to a point. It’ll be that time to review the first half of the year. Not because it’s on the agenda or anything but because it’s a habit I seemed to have developed. And I’m not even a planner type person!

Ah, summer. How badly do I wish life can be more on the Phineas and Ferb side of than the everyday ho-hum making a living side. Which makes me think, what would I do if I had no obligations? This merits some thought. Perhaps another blog post. Hm . . . 

So, what to post, what to post. 

Movie Moment: Huh? Processing in progress

Have you ever watched a movie where you were thinking, through the entire movie, “okay, this is pretty good,” “not bad,” “I’m liking it” and then in the last fifteen minutes or so you’re like “what the heck?”

And then you’re thinking “no, but I liked it” and you have another part of your mind going “did you? did you really?” and you answer back “I did. Seriously. Well, I think I did?”

This. All of this. Like, an hour ago. 

I’m still not feeling well. My mind is still in static mode (remember the snowing TV? Yep, still there). Still tangled and, therefore, a lingering mild headache is still present. So I decided to journal a bit. Which helped. But now and then the slight pounding takes precedence so I stop. I decided to watch a movie while dozing in and out of consciences.

Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltrow (remember her?), written and directed by Peter Howitt. Like I mentioned earlier, I was looking for a distraction, but it started to get a bit interesting. Especially dealing with themes that portray the “what ifs?” and “by chance?” story lines. I’m a sucker for that only because, really, all it takes is a moment to change the course of life. But I won’t get into it just now. So, back to the point of this post.

So, like an hour ago I was really getting into this movie. I like the story it was telling (and I’m not going to go into it because that will be like movie reviewing, which really should be its own post). And then we get to the last fifteen to thirty minutes and I’m thinking “what just happened?” when the credits start to roll.

Reflecting upon this, it could be one of two things. Either a major plot twist through you off-balance, changed the atmosphere so to speak, or a plot point just didn’t make sense and it ended too abruptly for your mind to process it naturally. I’m sure I’m missing other possibilities, but these are the two I could think of with a mild headache and a major “what just happened?” 

I’m still trying to figure out which one is it, but wow. I mean, wow. One moment I’m watching the movie and cautiously enjoying it and then BOOM! “huh?” I did feel that’s the direction the movie was taking so I wasn’t surprised, but I was. Surprised and not surprise. At the same time. It’s an interesting and puzzling feeling, but there it is. 

And if I decide to review this one . . . well, hopefully, I’ll figure it out by then.

Here’s to “huh?” moments!

Book Moment: Getting things right versus the experience

So, it’s almost midnight and again I find myself in that world between the real world and dreamland, dozing off while trying to read my new read when I come across this scene that wakes me up. I go from minutes away from dreamland and now I’m . . . not wide-awake per se, but it has my brain in overdrive.

He chews his slice halfway through before saying, “Maybe the point is to just sit and be still and not fight it so much.” At my blank look, he says, “Don’t try to be good at it.”

I shut the binder. “What’s the point of doing something if you’re not trying to get good at it?”

He gives me a funny look. “To just experience it.”

They Possibility of Now by Kim Culberton

It struck a chord with me. Getting it right or experiencing it? And I understand the point of the quote is “getting good at it” but I thinking getting it right can apply to this too. I think there are exceptions to everything but it feels like the standard focuses more on the first. Getting it right. It reminds me of a conversation I recently had. We were talking about shame and what a powerful emotion it is. It was mentioned that it often comes from wanting to fit in or to be “normal” or to not make any waves, so to speak. We want to be accepted so we develop behaviors accordingly. I had it confused with guilt. However, it was clarified the difference that guilt is when we have injured someone else while shame is how we feel about ourselves.

And what do guilt and shame have to do with getting it right and experience? — you might ask. 

Excellent question. No idea, except that need, perhaps that want, to get it right. From this perspective, getting it right means doing what everyone else is doing. Getting it right means acceptance. In this case, you’re overlooking experience.  

And I think this scene struck a chord with me because the main character was trying to meditate, which she sucked at because she couldn’t quiet her mind. The how-to articles on meditation didn’t tell her how she could quiet her mind so she insists that it missed a step. I can relate. I have the darndest time trying to quiet my mind all. the. time. And that includes meditation because I’ve tried that. I couldn’t help but laugh reading this part because that’s exactly what I would think. Not out loud or even be aware that I’m thinking it. I would (coughs have) googled “meditation” and “clear your mind” and even “mindfulness” because I’ve recently been told that I have a hard time staying in the present (which didn’t exactly come as a surprise to me but it was nice to have confirmation that I am, indeed, “checking out” from time to time).

This was a reality check for me. That maybe the point of meditation or quieting your mind doesn’t mean void of thought. Maybe the point is to experience it. To let your body go with it. Work your way to a quiet mind, you know? And I think I heard somewhere (oh! I remember. It was at a workshop for work. On mindfulness, now that I think about it) that that’s exactly right. That mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean “no thoughts” but an awareness of what’s going on in the here and now. 

Needless to say, I’m enjoying this book and I’m looking forward to finishing it. 

W-o-o-sha. W-o-o-sha. 

Happy May 2017!

Can you believe that? It’s already May! As in, May 1st! As in, 5 months into 2017! As in, 6 months away from the holidays!

It feels like every time I do these “Hello, Month” posts I say “I can’t believe it’s already [name of month]!” It’s redundant, I know, but I am genuinely surprised when the new month arrives. Seriously. I feel like I just said goodbye to 2016 and hello 2017 and now we’re almost halfway to the end of the year. So. Fast.

And every time I do one of these “hello, month” posts I tend to reflect on the previous month. Was it good? Bad? Busy? Did I accomplish want I wanted to do in the month? And I do it without even wanting to. It just happens, you know? A quick calculation of all the things I haven’t done. Such a downer, I know. Perhaps I should change this perspective because if I’m honest, I never accomplish anything that I want to accomplish because I never really sit down to say “hey, this is what I’m gonna do this month.” Ideas float around in my head and “make a note of that” type thoughts but I never really commit to anything.

Not that I want to of course. I know that’s the responsible thing to do. Sit down. Assess. Figure out what I need to get done, what I want to get done, and what can wait. But that’s not me. It’s not quite who I am. I’m not making excuses either. At least, I don’t think I am. I’m sure you’ve met people out there. People who aren’t really planners. If you haven’t met someone like that–“Hi. I’m the infojunkie behind 411junkie and I’m not a planner.”

Okay, getting back to the point. It’s May! 

It’s May! April was a bit of a blur, but then again, if I’m being honest, all of 2017 has been kind of a blur. I know that I’m really focused on school and I’m pretty good at it. I’m on the home stretch, with only 54 more credits to go. I’m finishing up Russian History and in June I’ll be studying Viking History. Followed by Ancient Western Philosophy. And I know I’ll sound like a geek, but I am seriously excited about these classes. #historygeek #loudandproud So if keeping my grades up was a goal, then I’m 1 for 1. 

And that’s a good score for me. Depression is a tricky thing to whether through and I think I’m doing pretty darned good all things considered.

So, May. My commitments this month would be to continue my diligence in my studies. Continue to write (and if at all possible, write MORE!). And most importantly, try to stay in the moment.

At the end of May, I want to be able to say “What a great month that was! Not bad. Not bad at all.” 

So, here’s to “What a great month that was!”


Photo credits: Top pic – onlycrazy.com / bottom pic – lovethispic.com (results of a Google Search for “Hello May” and “Happy May”)

Random 411: Hello April!

Can you believe it’s already April? I certainly can’t. I wonder what it is that makes it seem as if time is flying by. Is it busyness? Is it because we’re on auto-pilot? Is it because we’re so busy trying to live life that we are forgetting to enjoy life?

I remember summers that seemed to last forever. I remember sleepovers that seemed to last as long as fun and friendship was needed. I remember … well, now I’m not sure if I’m even making a point. While I do remember those things, I also remember times when I was having so much I can’t believe it was coming to an end, like a summer camp program or a night out with friends.

I wonder what it is that slows time and speed it up even though there are only and always 24 hours in the day. Perhaps I should start gauging the times I feel like time is moving slowly, like the last few minutes of your work day, and when time moves quickly, like how it’s already April when it feels like we just celebrated New Years.

Anyhow, I can’t believe it’s already April. A new month. A new slate. A new 30-days to make every minute count.

Cheers to April!