Category Archives: Life

Amateur Radio Supports 9-1-1 Outage

Amateur Radio Supports 9-1-1 Outage

This morning on the scanner I heard dispatch advising that people were having trouble calling 9-1-1. Apparently they were getting “circuits busy” messages or just getting cut off. I thought to myself, “hmm, wonder how long that will last. Long enough, and we might see an ARES activation.” (one of the contingency plans stations amateur radio operators at published locations who can relay emergencies from the public to the Emergency Operations Center.) Sure enough, a little while later we got the word that we were being requested to activate. I checked in and asked what I could do (our net control operator wasn’t quite sure what to do with me since most people sit in their cars to stay out of the weather and … I don’t have one). He asked me to go to one of the local hospitals and activate the station there. It took a few minutes to get out there (whatever was affecting 9-1-1 was also causing trouble for my out-of-state number calling into the area). After waiting a few minutes for a security escort, I got to the area where we set up. There was a class going on in the room the antenna connection lives in, and I was asked to wait until the class was done before setting up.

All righty then. You’re our servd agency, so whatever you say goes. Sadly, I couldn’t hit the local repeater from the area with my handheld and had to wait until the room cleared. The promised 10 minutes was more like 15, and I got the radio plugged in and turned on just in time to hear our group being told the situation had resolved itself and advising we could stand down.

I’m thinking we might want to put an extension cord in the cabinet. Both for power and the antenna. That way, if this happens again, someone can slip in, hook up and move out of the way. Oh well, in either event I know where the radio is for next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes I’m not Convinced I Grew Up

Sometimes I’m not Convinced I Grew Up

Every once in a while I still feel like a kid being allowed to sit at the grown-ups table instead of the Kiddy table. Case and point, yesterday.

I had to make a trip out of town for work with our President and two of our legal team. At different points throughout the day I:

* Still carry a backpack because I refuse to use a briefcase.
* Was the only one not drinking coffee (apple juice or water instead)
* Was the only one of five people at the table without a law degree (any degree if you want to really get technical)
* Was eating a cheeseburger instead of seafood.

Good thing they pay me for my uber powers of Nerd. ๐Ÿ™‚

In The Space Ship, The Silver Space Ship

In The Space Ship, The Silver Space Ship

Last night a friend from work, her husband, and I attended a They Might Be Giants concert in Towson.

TMBG, you were fantastic and I very much enjoyed you. Despite my assertion of, “I could do that,” in reference to Kevin Ram’s (I believe) amazing trumpet playing I couldn’t and he rocked.

To the people behind me. Avatars of They was one of the funniest parts of the show. Also, shut up, you’re an idiot. Next time you want to spend money to stand around talking, go to a bar. Some of us actually wanted to hear the show.

Now, for the obligatory YouTube drop-ins.

First for Epi, because she very politely thanked me for getting it stuck in her head, “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”

And the cover from “Pushing Daisies”, because it has Kristin Chenoweth, and my platonic love for this woman knows no bounds.

Finally, “The Guitar” where the title of hthis post got it’s name.

Tony the Techie (or how my Colleagues Made Fun of Me)

Tony the Techie (or how my Colleagues Made Fun of Me)

Each year, as a part of my employer’s christmas Party,there is a tradition of singing parody songs about funny/memorable/characteristic things other colleagues have done in the previous year. This year, I got picked on.

Tony the Tech Man (to the tune of โ€œFrosty the Snowmanโ€)

Tony the tech man

Was a jolly techy soul

With a brand new JAWS, and a CD rom and two cell phones in the bowl

Go for a plunger

We need it right away

Check here and there

And at ace hardware, donโ€™t forget about ebay

Flushedy flush flush

Flushedy flush flush

Round the bowl they go

Clickety click click

Clickety click click

Look at that techy go!

If you haven’t already figured out why this was necessary, here’s the backstory.

Some of you know that I can be a terminal clutss. Parenthetically, my Mom would likely attribute this to the fact that I tend to move at warp 3 and don’t always pay enough attention to where I’m going… and she’s probably correct. Sadly, this got the better of me twice, as i sent two cell phones for a swim in the toilet.

The first one was back in March at a hotel in LA. I had tossed a bottle of Coke into the trash can and missed. While leaning over to pick it up my fat belly dislodged the quick release clip on my phone case. It was one of those moments where time slows to a crawl, and you fight the inevitable, but you know no matter what you do, that thing is slipping from where it has come to rest, between you and the top of the toilet seat, and going in. As it is prone to do, time reengages.

*Mad grab for phone. Splash! Explative deleted. yank phone from bowl; shake madly; tear off case; yank battery and SIM chip; out of insane despiration (this was a pricey phone after all) suck as much water from the speaker grill and headphone jack as possible (no, i did not swallow it), thanking God that you hadn’t just contaminated the toilet prior to this incident; rip the hair drier from the wall, turn it on high and blast the phone for 15 minutes; After a while, give the unit up as lost and scour the convention for a dealer selling new units; strike out; IM spouse from the hotel bar and say you’ll be out of contact for a while; bang head against wall; borrow demo phone from employer for trip home.

Fortunately, the phone actually survived. I powered it up the next morning after flying back to Baltimore and things worked again.

The second time, with my iPhone, I was not so lucky. Basically this time it slipped out of my hand while I was trying to answer a call and shot behind me into a toilet at work. This time I was not so ready to admit it to Treva, both out of self-annoyance and the knowledge that I would quite likely experience a great deal of ribbing. Unfortunately, the 3g radio was a casualty of the water and I had to do an out of warranty replacement (thanks Apple for adding that option and not making me suffer the full cost of replacing the phone).

So that’s what lead my wonderful friends at work to sing about me. Oh, you can all thank Treva for this post too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Playing Catchup

Playing Catchup

Or if you prefer, Ketchup.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

Rather, I simply chose not to.

Here’s what’s been happening with us lately.

Work has been crazy. We’re gearing up for the annual NFB National Convention which takes place in Detroit starting July 2nd. It’s always a crazy, but massively fun, week.

Treva just finished work on a video to promote mentoring of blind youth by blind adults. She put a ton of work into it and it came out exceptionally well!! If it ends up online I’ll link to it.

In non-work related, but completely geeky, news. I upgraded my amateur, ham, radio license to Extra class (the highest level) and Treva earned her Technician class license. Somewhere around the 20th of May I decided that it it had been 14 years and I hadn’t advanced my license very far (I upgraded from Technician to Tech Plus somewhere around 1996 or 1997 which only required a 5WPM morse code test) and I decided it was about time to do something about it.

There were two exams I needed to pass to upgrade to Amateur Extra. The General class exam is a 35 question test on intermediate theory, regulations, and radio wave propegation. The Extra class exam consists of 50 questions on some of the more obscure, but no less important, regulations, advanced electronics theory, and operating practices including Amateur Television and using Amateur Radio Satellites.

When I started studying I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could complete the upgrade by the 2009 ARRL Field Day which begins June 27. Field Day is an annual operating event that runs for twenty-four hours during the last full weekend in June. It is an opportunity both to test operating in abnormal conditions, clubs and individuals will often set up operating in tents and use power sources such as generaters or batteries to simulate emergency operating conditions, and as a public relations tool to teach people about amateur radio. It’s usually one of my favorite operating activities aside from public service events. Many years I am unable to participate since the NFB convention frequently falls on the same weekend, but with the 4th of July falling where it does I get to do both.

When I first started studying I thought that it would be cool to take the General and Extra exams at the same time and just “get it done”. I used a combination of the ARRL study guides and Simon, AA9PW’s, Online Practice Exams to prepare. There was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to pass the Extra (some of the theory was killing me), but when I started passing the general exams I crammed for it the last week before I planned to take the actual exam.

That’s when Treva started studying for her Technician exam too. See, I’m definitely a radio geek. I think it iss much easier to use a radio to pass quick messages when you’re at a convention or other event than to use a cell phone. Especially some of these convention hotels where mobile phone coverage is abismal to say the least. I’d kind of been bugging her to get her ham license for a couple of years. We’ve had General Mobile Radio Service licenses for a while, but in areas where they even exist GMRS repeater information is scarce and many urban areas suffer from channel congestion because of the “bubble pack” radios fromWal-Mart and the like. (Most of what we need will be simplex, but occasionally a repeater will be handy.) (You can’t conduct your employer’s business on ham radio, but generally we’re just trying to figure out where the other person is, or I’m being sent on a Diet Coke Run :-)).

I’ve also been playing around with Amateur Satellites. We’ve got several of them up there, and since there are bonus points for satellite contacts during Field Day, I’ve been trying to see if I can successfully use one. So far I’ve almost heard one (I had extremely minimal capture, but couldn’t pull anyone out of the noise) and heard it on a subsequent pass (I forgot to compensate for doppler, and had to move out of the way of a car in the parking lot, so lost it before I could try to make a contact). I’m going to try again tomorrow morning and see what happens.

I wonder if I can convince the apartment complex people to give me a key to the roof so I don’t have to “play radio” in the parking lot to get a clear shot at the sky.

Wow, sorry, this has turned into way more of a radio geekery post than I planned.

You can wake up now… Really, you can… HEY! Wake Up! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve also been geeking around with a couple of computer projects, but I’ll save those posts for when they’re actually working.

We ditched our cable company at the end of May. Over memorial Day weekend we obtained an DTV converter and antenna to see if we could get the broadcast network channels. Most of what we watch is either on a broadcast network or reruns. We figured we could just keep using Netflix, Hulu, or similar digital streaming/download services to get the rest. I can’t say I’ve even noticed that we haven’t had it.

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of anything that will not bore you any more than you already are.

My Wife, The Flasher

My Wife, The Flasher

While Twitter is fantastic for short, off the cuff messages about what’s happening. Sometimes one-hundred forty characters just isn’t enough to give an accurate picture of the situation and gems like the following clearly scream for clarification.

Accidentally made @trevaolivero flash the neighborhood. Sorry ’bout that Babe

First, a little backstory. For those of you who don’t know, due to one to many encounters with Rippy the Gator*, Treva had her right leg amputated above the knee some years ago. She doesn’t currently wear a prostesis because of the inept incompetance of the last tech who tried fitting her for one, and she can’t walk all that far even with it on.

She had agreed to babysit for our friends’ son AJ last night, and being the dedicated husband/shirpa that I am, I went along with the explicit understanding that “I don’t do diapers”.

In typical Baltimore fashion our friends house has about eight steps leading to the front door broken into two groups separated by a landing. Our usual technique for getting up and down the stairs is executed with her placing her stump on my bent thigh, which is on the step she will be moving to, my arms wrapped around her waist for support and her hopping to that step. Normally, to avoid either of us, terminal clutses that we are, tripping on her loose pantleg one of us holds onto it. Yesterday she was wearing a skirt. I figured it might be a good idea to keep it pulled up like I usually do with her pants. Unfortunately, I had only grabbed the front half of the garment when I lifted it to her waist.

Treva: “You’re holding up my skirt.”

Me (well duh, I’m trying to help here): “Yeah. I know. I figured it would help.”

Treva: “no, you’re only holding up part of it.”

Me (huh) “What are you…” *rechecks positioning of hands, lets skirt fall down* “Oh, um, right. Sorry about that.” *jauntily waves to the neighbors and hopes she isn’t thinking of ways to slay my manhood in revenge*

Obviously, to protect the woman from me I need to:


  1. Invent a wheelchair with a hovercraft function;

  2. Beef up my muscles so I can carry her; or

  3. find a one man stairchair that fits in a backpack

* If she would like to dispute my version of events, she’s free to break her silence on this blog and do so lest I decide to drop her as an associate and change the name :-).

EMS Blogmeet

EMS Blogmeet

Had a great dinner last night with Epi, Sam, Ambuulance Driver, Maddog Medic, Too Old to Work, Too Young to Retire, Eric, OldNFO and several others who either aren’t blogging or I didn’t get handles for. Most of them were in town for some portion of the EMS Today conference.

Thanks for making me feel welcome. You are a fun group of people who do amazing work. Here’s hoping we do it again.

My Particular Brand of OCD

My Particular Brand of OCD

I have a problem.

It’s not a huge problem. Nothing like smoking, or a personal crack habbit, or a serious liking of New Kids on the Block or something horrible like that which will almost certainly lead to an intimate knowledge of every rehab facility down the eastern seaboard. Nothing like that I assure you. What I suffer from is a ridiculous form of OCD (or, according to my colleague KZ “CDO, because if you have OCD it has to be alphabetized) that requires me to be bothered if a light is off and the switch is in the up position.

You know the kind of lights I’m talking about. There’s two switches and you can turn them on/off from wherever. Drive. Me. Nuts.

We have three of them in our apartment. The kitchen, the hallway, and Treva’s pride and joy, her walk-in closet. The kitchen and hallway lights are easy enough to avoid. I put enough crap near them to make reaching the secondary switch annoying at best.

It absolutely drives me batty when the switches aren’t all down. I have been known to walk out of my way just to set them to the “right” position.

last night I took some dry cleaning out of her closet and hit the switch closest to me. I had to flip it up. Ug! Treva was in the other door (I should clarify, her walk-in closet connects our bedroom to the master bathroom) so I didn’t fix it at the moment. I walked into the living room and out of the corner of my semi functional eye saw the light come on. I thought to myself “oops, guess she wasn’t done in there” and went on my merry way to spend quality time with my friend Dryel.

Fast forward to this morning when I hear, “You’ve made me inherrit your OCD.”

Me: Huh?
Her: Last night I had to fix the lightswitch. You have rubbed off on me.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHA!

It’s a disease folks. I’m telling ya.

It’s Been A Year

It’s Been A Year

Wow! I haven’t written all year. Can you believe it?

Fine. It’s a lame line. Put the tomato down.

It has been an unacceptably long time since I communicated with you all. I have no excuse, but I do offer the following explanation.

Every time I think to myself “ooh, that would be a great thing for the blog” and actually sit down to write the Procrastatron 5000XT kicks in and convinces me to not do it.

See, if you’ve never heard of it, the Procrastatron 5000XT is a vial little microchip who’s job it is to make me lazy and convince me that I don’t need to do a particular thing at a particular moment. I am convinced that during one of the 312 cornea transplants I had as a kid, a crazy mad scientist snuck into the OR and implanted the Procrastatron where my right eye should be. Procrastatron is a handy little thing to have on a rainy weekend when I should be cleaning the house, but would much rather be reading a book. Not so much in the eighth grade when you have a History packet due and you put it off for two weeks, until you’re waking up at 03:00 listening to I Love Lucy and Murphy Brown furiously scrambling to get the thing done. Thanks channel 6 for replacing Murphy Brown with the Bloomberg Financial Report sometime in March, that really helped me stay awake there. Mom, if you’re reading this, I made that last part up. Well, most of it. I have no idea what they replaced Murphy Brown with, I moved to Janesville in March. ๐Ÿ™‚ Um, Procrastatron doesn’t help when I’m trying to write a blog entry or do a podcast for that matter either.

Anyway, my conversations with this little robot in my head go something like this:

Me: Excellent. Time to blog.
Procrastatron: But your laptop is all the way over there and youโ€™re really comfortable on the couch.
Me: Pfft, it’s 36 inches you lazy robot. I think I can get the computer and stay under this blanket.
Crasty: Don’t bother. Your two readers have already moved on.
Me: Quiet you. I have at least four, maybe six, readers and I must keep them entertained.
Jerk: [I can see I’ll just have to bring out the big guns] Here, have some Melatonin.
Me: You fight dirty. I’ll show you. I’m gonna… Gonna… [Snore]

Yeah. I’ll show him. One of these days I’ll reprogram him into Doitnowatron and be so productive… Why am I suddenly tired?

***

Enough of that for the day.

To catch you all up. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Work has kept Treva and I busy and we traveled quite a few times around the holidays.

By a few times, I mean I think I was on something like 12 different aircraft in 4 weeks.

It started at Thanksgiving when we flew to Wisconsin to spend time with my family. We got in on Wednesday and stayed until Sunday afternoon. It was a lot of fun. While we were there we attended our friend Sarah’s wedding. We spent time at the reception hanging out with our friend Rachael and her family. It was great to have a chance to reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen in several years.

What wasn’t so great was the trip back. It was kind of a stormy day, stupid winter, and the Atlanta airport, stupid Atlanta airport, was backed up like crazy. We got hit with a ground hold in Milwaukee and left two hours late. When we got into Atlanta we had to hang out for a while. We boarded the flight about the time we were originally supposed to leave (22:30 or so). However, for whatever reason, we did not get off the ground until close to midnight. To top it off, the complementary XM wasn’t working in my row.

We landed at BWI around 00:50 and headed to pick up our bags. Something you should understand about BWI, it can take anywhere from one to twenty years to get luggage off the plane there. Accordingly, it was 01:30 by the time we reclaimed our bags. No, actually our one bag. Standing at the baggage carousel, waiting on bag number two, I hear the following, “Mr. Olivrivero” (hehe, close enough buddy). He hands me a bag, covered in goo, and proceeds to explain that, “Something spilled.” Oh, good, cuz my first guess would have been that it went through the plane wash and the rinse cycle broke.

Turns out one of our shampoo bottles popped open and the cap slid off sideways, filling the bag with the entire contents. YUCK!! I found a bathroom and cleaned the thing off because Treva, most likely accurately, pointed out that no cabby would want that mess in his vehicle.

01:45. The cab dispatcher doesn’t seem to have clue one and we stand around until he pulls it together and realizes we in fact want a cab.

02:15. We make it home. I, not wanting to deal with the goopy mess in the morning clean the bag and toss a load of laundry in.

We make it to bed about 03:00 and fall into a deep sleep.

06:20. BEEEP! BEEP! BEEEP! BEEP!

No way. Already? This has to be a nightmare.

Actually, I’m sure my thoughts were no where near that coherent. They probably ended at “MARGG! DIE!”

Out of respect for anyone who would have to tollerate either of us, Treva and I took half the day off.

***

I flew to Bentonville, Arkansas in mid December to meet with a small company none of you have ever heard of. (It rhymes with Ham’s Flub). We had good, productive meetings and I flew home. To repack for the trip to Indiana the next day.

For another wedding.

A brief aside. The majority of our trips for the period beginning Thanksgiving and ending in August are centered around someone’s wedding. There’s R and K’s in April and my Sister’s in August left to go.

This weekend was also Christmas with Treva’s family since we were in the area.

We had to alter our travel plans between Greenwood and Goshen slightly when Cape Air decided they would stop flying any of their Indiana commuter operations cancelling our Indianapolis to South Bend flight. Thanks guys. Though I think we had more fun our wway.

Treva’s brothers drove down and gave us a ride. This was probably the most amusing car trip I have ever taken next to the time I was driving around with Rachael and Sarah, playing my horn out the window and waving an orange safety flag. We hooked up with them in the parking lot of a Wal Mart and then decided to hit BW3s for dinner. After which, we were laughing so hard at something that we missed the turn onto I69 and had to take the long way. Which apparently didn’t bother Chris too much since he got to stop and wake up a cousin at 02:00 to ask for Pepsi, which the guy didn’t have anyway. We finally made it back to Goshen about 03:00 and went to sleep. We spent Sunday and Monday with Treva’s family and friends and headed back Monday evening.

We were back in Wisconsin for Christmas and hung with my family again. Good times!

This past week we had friends from Texas and Nebraska visiting. We had a big party at Ronza’s on New Year’s Eve and just hung out the rest of the time.

Okay. I’m wrapping this up. I need to write more often so I can be more detailed. I’m not writing a novel here.

Thanks for reading. Stop back soon. Procrastatron and I are going to take a nap.

Blogabirthaversary Day

Blogabirthaversary Day

So not only is today my 26th birthday it is also the sixth anniversary of blogging. Stop looking at the archives, you won’t find where I’ve squirreled those first posts away. (There on another site and someday I might migrate them over, but they’re from a time in my life where things were just… um… Nuts? Yeah, that describes it).

Anyway, my blogaversary aside. I got some pretty cool stuff for my Birthday. Treva bought me a Charging Station from Think Geek that i have on the headboard. I’m no longer sleeping in a sea of cords. ๐Ÿ™‚ She also got me a multi-colored LED light buld that sadly needs replacing and the complete box set of the Gilmore Girls. Excellent stuff!

Tonight we’re just relaxing. Mondays are officiall the suck and no one should ever do anything on them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tomorrow we’re heading to ESPN Zone. I have an unexplainable desire to play some air hockey and Skiball but decided Chuck-E-Cheese wasn’t “adult” enough. For some reasons people keep telling me they don’t understand why I think I’m too mature. Brats. All of you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hopefully we’ll have some good pics to post.

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes electronic and otherwise. Ya’ll rock!