It’s summer

And that means I’m busy — canning, gardening, brewing, and still in school.  The good news is I may actually get a passing grade for Statistics.

12 jars of dilly beans put up today, about 5 pounds of blueberry jam to go.

The first part of this month I purchased and  processed 100 pounds of tomatoes and made paste, canned tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce.  I got a killer deal through Bountiful Baskets on the tomatoes; you should look into signing up if they’re available in your area.  They’re kind of like a CSA and coop combined.

That’s all, just taking a break for lunch (thanks Mr. TF!) and back to work on the jam.

National Field Day

Well, I went to Field Day with my husband, an General class Ham.  (wow, that sounds like an insult…)

It was fun meeting new people, seeing all the faces I know from going to meetings with Jeff, and hearing on the morning radio nets.  It was fun having a massive barbeque.

What I didn’t get before I went, and still don’t get now, is the purpose for ‘contesting’.  Which consists of calling people on the radio on different frequencies, exchanging call signs and location codes, and…that’s it.  Logging the contact.  All the contacts get sent to the national radio center and you get recognition for making the most contacts.  Why, I don’t understand.  So your club gets points for being the most pushy, loud, and talkative?  Um…OK.

Now, the emergency preparedness aspect of it, I’m totally on board with.  The being able to have a conversation with anybody in the area who wants to jump in, I get.  The contesting, not so much.

And calling making a contact ‘working’ someone is just offensive to me.  I’m not a prostitute, you haven’t ‘worked’ me.  You’ve talked to me, and I’ve talked to you.  Mr. TF says I just don’t understand, and he’s right.

That’s my rant about Ham radio.

That said, I still plan on upgrading my license.  And learning morse code.  After all, there still are no strangers in this world, there are only people I haven’t had a conversation with yet.

One more step taken on my preparedness TSHTF list

I passed my Ham Technician test yesterday.

Those who are reading this blog, who know me in person, are probably incredulous right now that I did this, as I’m not a fan of the telephone.  I would literally rather drive miles to see someone in person rather than talk to them on the phone, even if that means waiting until I have other errands to run and making a marathon day out of it.

As I was studying, and indeed even as I was waiting in line (!) to pay my fee for testing, I was very much of two minds about this:  1. that this is an incredibly ‘geeky’ thing to do, which while I AM a geek, is not in my list of geeky things to accomplish.  I’m not tech savvy, my husband had to set up this blog site for me, and I still need his help on a regular basis for anything technology related.  And 2.  This is absolutely something I need to have and to upgrade, whether I want to or not, because the time is coming when I’ll need it.

Why will I need it?  Well, for one thing, I live in a part of the country with patchy cell phone coverage.  Mountains tend to disrupt cell signals pretty well it turns out.  Add to that the fact that I live less than 3 miles from my ‘home’ cell tower, I can see it from my living room, yet on most days I can’t get a steady signal from it, tells me that cell phone companies are having hard times too, and who knows how much longer my company will continue to invest in maintenance of every tower they have?  Especially the ones in the rural areas, as mine most definitely is?  In fact, if the economy gets worse as many are predicting, how much longer will my cell provider even be in business?

That is why I need to have a Ham license.  Whether or not the repeaters are running, there are, literally, Hams EVERYWHERE.  And nearly all of them have radios with them at all times.  Which means that even if the repeaters for the radio towers go down, there will still be relay of messages via line-of-site.  Which means I will be able to keep in contact with my spouse and loved ones if I get into trouble on the road or something.

National Field day, which is probably one of the biggest Ham events in the country, is at the end of this month.  Mr. TF and I plan to attend; him because he’s the president of the club and he loves Ham radio; me because I never pass up the chance to eat brats* with mustard — and it will be a good way to get practice with lots of other ‘geeks’ who know a LOT more than I do.  I will, however, also be bringing my folding chair and my spinning wheel with me….there’s only so much modern technology I can deal with in a day that I’m not working.

Surprisingly, there is a large contingent of Hams who also suspect things may be going in a …. not positive direction in our country, and who are aware of the potential for Ham to be a vital communications link.  And that contingent is growing by leaps and bounds — I don’t know statistics, but based on listening to the club members who are or have been examiners, I would have to say that the ‘hobby’ is growing in popularity spectacularly quickly these days.  There were eleven people who tested with me, and two of them drove for about 80 miles to test.  In a community that still is listed as a rural community according to the census, no less.

Next on the list is getting a small solar set up, and getting a bank of batteries together.  Doesn’t do much good to have radio capability in the ‘long emergency’ if one doesn’t have power for the radios.

*disclaimer* Brats are food of the gods.  I may go to hell, and I may die of cancer, but they are one of the few meats I eat without checking to see that they’re sustainably raised.  Especially when they’re provided as part of a potluck.

New study in Leaves

Several months ago I blogged about an Aran sweater I was knitting with my homespun; that one still sits on the shelf because I screwed up in the knitting of the center panel and it biases so badly, it’s not savable.  But, I spun this yarn knowing I was going to make myself a sweater with it, so I’ve been fiddling, sampling, and searching the patterns on line and in my collection.  Every last one is (of course) designed for commercial yarns, with their perfectly smooth and even qualities.  Which means that I have to swatch, knit a sample, take a look at it, fiddle with the pattern, and sample some more. Everything I tried just looked wrong.  So.

Finally, I decided to just do my own pattern.  I did some math, did some gauge swatching, did some sampling, and voila!  My own sweater pattern!   Airy, light, but warm.   Hand spun Corriedale two ply, DK to sport weight (my spinning is never going to be perfectly uniform, I’m afraid)

I’ve been completely taken with the foliage theme in my knitting lately, and the leaves turned out so well for the scarf that I adapted it (again) for my sweater.  I put ribbing on the sides so it will be a little closer fitting; I love sweaters but I hate looking even heavier than I am, so adding ribbing will give it a little ‘cling’ and show my curves without making it a tight fit.

If it turns out really spectacularly I may put a pattern on Ravelry for it.

What?? Californians are hypocrites?? Say it isn’t so!

Well, their elected officials are apparently hypocrites.  Boycotts against Arizona, making their cities ‘sanctuaries’ for illegals, the list goes on.  In violation of explicit California law, no less.

I present to you Exhibit A (or 834b, as the case may be):  California State Penal Code Section 834b reads rather remarkably like Arizona’s former Revised Senate Bill 1070.  Funny how elected officials, who must swear an oath to uphold both California state and United States federal law, are so eager to dismiss their oaths.  And, eager to dismiss their constituents; 50% of Californians support the Arizona law, even though it was (possibly deliberately?) mis-represented in a poll conducted by the LA Times.  That’s a lot of supporters.  Glenn Reynolds of the Daily Mail blogs details some of the salient questions along with the responses; he points out that even allowing for a margin of error, the fact that there is a 7% majority supporting it, means that over half of all California residents support it.  What I find completely mesmerizing about this is the fact that obviously, a majority of Californians are completely ignorant of the fact that their own state has a VERY similar law.  And, that California police DO, in fact, enforce this law (or did until budget cuts).

I also read recently that as many as 22 other states are considering enacting legislation similar to Arizona’s (and, one might add, California’s).  This is what comes of allowing big business to influence federal law, a la Reaganomics.  What we have now is a potential deal breaker as far as states’ rights over federal rights…stay tuned.  I promise that as the economy worsens this will get ummm….interesting.