I had steeled myself as I figured Bunny had cancer. She had some very large growths on her belly that the vet said were cancer and would eventually spread to her bones, amounting to a very painful last couple of months. Pat and I decided to have the vet put her down on a trip to the UGA veterinarian school in Athens.
On the way home we both agreed that we didn't need to find another dog since we had Oki Kuma, our 150 pound Alaskan Malamute and our two cats, Cocoa & Carab. So, two days later found us at the animal shelter picking up our new 4 month old "mutt"! Lucy, a Lab mix, is giving Oki a real run for the money, getting him some much needed exercise.
The antenna project is still on hold, awaiting some help from the Barrow County ARC gang to complete the tower installation and mounting the antennas. The Drake 2B needs some work in the audio section. The K2 is getting farmed out to a local ham who will complete soldering the high density PCBs, which I can no longer do. I have some restoral to do on the Drake TR4 station but that is nothing that directly affects the operation of the rig. The K3 continues to putt-putt along constantly spoiling me. I just don't deserve that great of a rig!
I am Elmering a couple of guys that I shoot with. One of them just got his license a couple of days ago and is happy as a clam getting on the air on 2M FM. Unfortunately there is a growing trend (or possibly pressure) among ham clubs to run a "Ham Cram" program on a weekend. This is where one or two members of the local club take an afternoon on a weekend to teach the test, so to speak to anyone wanting/needing a Technician Class ham ticket. It seems that a large number of "preppers" (or survivalists) are getting their ham tickets for the day the SHTF!
I really don't like this type of "instruction". Over the last 20 years between the ARRL and the FCC the license tests have been "dumbed down" to the point that if a person can properly spell his/her name they can get a license! That's not what Ham Radio is all about. At least not in my opinion. Of course the ARRL did this (with the blessing of the FCC) to swell the ranks of amateurs and stimulate the hobby. I can't help but think that there is a connection in there somewhere between the ARRL and the various Evil Offshore Empire equipment manufacturers, too. After all, it takes a LOT of money to buy several full pages of advertising in QST!
In reality what has happened is that there are a lot of new hams who will never go beyond a technician class license and in turn stay on the V/UHF frequencies with their shack-on-the-belt hand-held. Not that this is a bad thing, but there sure as hell is more to ham radio than repeaters and packet radio.
This brings me to another point of irritation: clubs. I belong to three here in the Atlanta area. I rarely go to meetings due to Pat's work schedule and some other family obligations that occur on meeting nights. However, I have noticed that the active clubs, the ones with large memberships, are a diverse bunch. This is great. It's the smaller clubs that lack a large member pool that suffer stagnation while trying to scare up hams to present presentations at meetings. Therefore, my New Years wish for all of you out there in Radio Land: become active with one or two local clubs and stir up some interest in areas of ham radio not directly related to 2M FM operation. In other words, train your replacement in the hobby.
I love guns. I have been a long-time target and pistol competitor. This year I finally conceded that I could no longer shoot accurately with the 1911A1 in .45 ACP. At the urging of several other shooters (Herb, from Alaska, among them) I unloaded the two .45s I had and procured three Glocks in 9mm (G-19, G-26, & G-34). One thing about all Glocks.......the sights suck! Big time! No, really, they SUCK!!! I took some drastic measures and replaced the stock sights on two out of the three Glocks with Trijicon sights (http://www.trijicon.com/na_en/index.php). MAN! What a difference!!! I can actually pick up the front sight now with almost no effort at all! They are low light/night sights and you can really lock onto the front and rear sights with very little effort. If you have a problem with the sights on your weapon, go to Trijicon. You won't be sorry. They are a little expensive but it is well worth the cost to be able to boost your accuracy. Additionally, if you carry concealed on a regular basis, it goes without saying that you need to insure that you have the proper sights on your weapon.Check out "In the Gravest Extreme" by Mass Ayoob. Amazon.com has them in stock.
Speaking of shooting, and I do a LOT of it now, I am converting over to lead reloads, since I have two reloading presses and a whole bunch of dies and brass in various calibers. Acme Bullet Company ( http://www.acmebullet.com/index.php?route=common/home) offers a great price on their lead alloy bullets for all popular pistol and rifle calibers. They do a land office business with the Cowboy Action Shooting crowd. They offer some really nice prices and they modified their mailing boxes to fit inside Priority Mail boxes, thereby cutting the shipping costs over half! They have a great customer service department, and are just plain good folks to deal with.
The latest trend in concealed holsters are the "plastic" holsters offered by a number of shooting accessory companies. I prefer Fobus holsters as they are inexpensive (around $20-25) and they come in a large variety of models to cover the most popular hand guns currently in use by police, military and civilians. Fobus products are made in Israel (http://www.fobusholster.com/). The IDF uses them almost exclusively. In reality they are a carbon fiber holster sometimes called by the trade name of "Kydex". I use one on my G-26 and it keeps the pistol in close to the body and can resist attempts by individuals that wish to snatch your firearm out of your holster. Speaking of my Glock 26, it is now my favorite carry piece. It has double the firepower of the Smith model 442 that I use to carry, and with the Fobus holster it stays put and I hardly know its there!
All for now. Have a Happy New Year.