Monthly Archives: February 2023

Common Sense on Education….

First a personal disclaimer – I earned several undergraduate degrees at an overseas extension of a USA University in (West) Germany that I have actually never visited the home campus of, all during a single overseas deployment, and then did my masters in England.  So in about 6 months longer than what a by-the-book 4 year undergraduate should have taken, I knocked off two AAs (needed to keep my employers happy), a BA, a DipBA on paper which I never did understand and an MBA.  Squeezed in about 3 to 3-1/2 years of full time employment during the process as well as finding a way to visit about 15-16 countries in my “spare time!”

So I have never been a fan of being ensconced in a classroom being lectured at as a serious form of education.

I’ve collected some articles that cast different lights on the reality that you need an education but that you don’t have to squander your time and money in a lockstep educational system:

Common Sense on Education….

You can take away a couple things from the readings:

  • Not all degrees are worth the money and the time
  • There are ways to get degrees that use less time and less money
  • Alternatives may be career-appropriate at an individual level
  • Always look at the ROI (Return on Investment)
  • Don’t forget to consider the Personal Joy into the equation.
  • Peer pressure preys on your weaknesses and will not help you make sound decisions.

My personal take is education fills two roles:

  • Adding to your Life Tool Box of skills and knowledge
  • Opening career doors earlier for you

Beyond that I suppose you can consider it a good shopping expedition into the “mating market” as many meet their life companions during education.  That makes a lot of sense as the people in your education social circle have all prequalified as similarly minded people by being there.

There are alternatives – investigate and grab the ones that fit well for you.

I worked indirectly for a fellow who sent off to study something he had a passion about and to get his doctorate, starting when he retired.  Since that day PhD programs have become commoditized and have a huge amount of low value in-classroom time requirements – all to enforce conformity and as quality control.  I don’t think I could do what my old boss did under that sort of conditions.

Thinking I should write more about that “Life Tool Box of skills and knowledge” angle, as it is the most important part of all of this.



What is there not to like about Maps? They are even more fun when free!

Came across a neat link to topographical maps:

Using these maps can certainly help your station antenna layout.



What is your Amateur Radio Trajectory?

Recently a friend shared his “amateur radio bucket list” and I was surprised they had set a timeframe with an “end date” for their participation in our hobby.

Wonder if that works?

I am thinking I seldom “cap-off” parts of my life – it isn’t like we have a set “best if used before” date stamped on our foreheads. and among the things I am interested in I certainly can’t predict what will be short term interests vs long term passions this early in the game.

Has been my experience that to really “control” a trajectory you can’t reach very far or for very long.  The goals often have to be fairly tepid as well.

I just don’t think that I am wired to make a list of say a dozen things I want to “check off” in a finite period of time before my station is shut down.

I’ve found external influences mold my interest list as much as I do.  Some examples:

Returning to flying is dependent on a flight medical, which won’t happen anytime soon.  True long distance motorcycle riding requires enough time away from both work & home, that with an XYL who doesn’t want to ride along, the time needs requires sacrificing our “together time.”  Island activation is much easier with a small group, so I’ve not worked at this on the solo basis my operations seem to be.

I also do not have enough time to carve out dedicated spots, unless it would be at the expense of another activity.  Some examples:

If I up and book a bunch of cruises (which we did, only to have the CCP-19 Virus cancel the trips) my interest in operating HF DX Phone suffers.  If my hunting buddies can’t make our group hunt, I don’t get to go.  Do I spend a Saturday running DX SSB on 20m, or take the time to visit elderly family members in care homes?

What if each year I decide to spend a couple month in Europe or at our Washington Island place, how does that impact plans?

No, the way I am wound I can make mental lists of what I’d like to “check-out” but not of what I am specifically going to do, much less at what time I would do them.

Thinking I like that semi-freeform approach – a general idea where I am heading, but far from every step planned out.




(NB – More on this topic to follow over the next few months – I’ll try to tag them all “Amateur Radio Legacy”)

February 16th is BBS Day! 1978 to 2023 online!

Today is the 45th anniversary of when the first public facing BBS (Bulletin Board System) went active.

The very first BBS

A wide group of BBS sysops and users are marking the anniversary – details at the BBS Day website:

The Great Blizzard of 1978 was one of the worst storms in Illinois’ history. One-hundred-mile-an-hour winds whipped up snow drifts as high as 12 feet. Wind chills were so low they caused railroad tracks to buckle and break. Northern Illinois, especially Chicago, ground to a halt. And a couple of snowed-in computer nerds created a major technological achievement. It was Feb. 16, 1978, just after the great blizzard, when two Chicagoans, Ward Christensen and Randy Suess, launched the world’s first computerized bulletin board system (BBS).

Link to the transcript:

There was an online documentary made about the event:

The whole thing was pretty simple – two 8″ floppy disks a Altair 8800 clone “Vector 1” connected by an S-100 board, and a 300bps modem. explains how the BBS was here before there was a world wide web!

I didn’t join into the BBS game until about 1984, where I started to operate as a “point” and then started a USA based full time BBS in 1988.

My present itineration of SPOT BBS (SPOT= S.P.O.T. = Someone Playing On Transistors) is at ssh port 1122, telnet port 1123, and when the html part works html port 8888.

SPOT BBS is the same 1:154/154 FidoNet Node Number as when I mothballed the original 30 years ago, though today it runs MysticBBS as the original OPUS CBBS software is long obsolete..

I’m online right now on a BBS where using MRC (a dedicated BBS-to-BBS IRC-like chat) people from all over the world are wishing each out “Happy BBS Day!”

Many are too young to have had a chance to BBS in those early days.  Some of us didn’t have the change to cover the costs of a modem (I think they were about $2400 back then, which bought a very nice used car.)  Some of us preferred to spend our money on socially-enabling objects like a motorcycle, as the upsides of motorcycles could include a date or even a girlfriend – modems, hmmm not so much….

Again Happy BBS Day!



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Non-Radio – A Small Town Thing – Local Symphony

Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra – 04 Feb 2023

The small town where I work and live nearby, is pretty fortunate to have a viable community Symphony, three Community Wind Ensemble/Bands, a community Jazz Band/Stage Band, numerous long running vocal groups (chamber and barbershop mostly) and very long running small bands (mainly polka).

I’ve not been to many performances since before we all started hiding from the virus in 2020, and have only played once on stage in the last 3-4 years.

Early February 2023 we decided to attend the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra, and had a fabulous time out.

Mozart and Haydn, well explained and played well!

Truth be known I really enjoy local live music. I know many of the players, and also a large cross section of the audience.

We have box seats purchased with the hope that the new elevator might allow one of both of my elderly parents to occasionally attend with us.

It is not every small community that has so many long running musical groups – here are some of ours (* are groups I have performed with):

Theatrical and sometimes includes music:

  • * Peter Quince Performing Company (founded 1969) – (a true youth theater group, as you have to be 12 years old to join, and you are graduated out when you turn 23)

There area lot more!

Quite a variety and much longevity for a community of 30 thousand (catchment area maybe twice that).

Not a bad place to be at all!



K9ZW QSL Hiatus – Stated November 2022 and Expect to run 6 months or so

My direct QSLing is on temporary Hiatus.

Actually the slow down started around Thanksgiving 2022, as I planned to take a QSLing break due to a planned temporary time load that included helping various family while they dealt with medical things.

That extra help ended up running more than two months, and included managing other’s affairs while they healed.

Then QDure dumped over ten thousand domestic QSL cards into the ARRL bureau system, who arranged freight so I could at least retrieve the cards. So in my office is 50kgs of completed cards awaiting envelopes and postage.

While doing double duty a lot of my stuff evened up put on hold, with a couple items needing attention before QSLing resumes.

And the QDure cards need to be processed. I have an idea of a system to start whittling away at the mountain of cards, and hope I will be allowed to bulk mail outgoing cards in say 1000 card lots.

I will keep posting logs to eQSL and Periodic LoTW uploads will happen, maybe every other month or so.

Direct QSLing largely is on hold until I catch up though.



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